Weekly Update • Thursday, August 27
This is the last weekly update that we'll send to our entire email list. If you would like to continue receiving updates about the ISJL Virtual Vacation, please sign up now!
Session 2: Visit Natchez, Mississippi!
Tuesday, September 1, at 11am Central
Join the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) on Tuesday, September 1, for a virtual visit to Natchez, Mississippi. Temple B'nai Israel in Natchez is home to the oldest Jewish congregation in Mississippi, and the city's history is filled with intersecting stories: stories of Native Americans, enslaved people, the Civil War, Civil Rights, and the American immigrant experience.

The ISJL is spearheading the restoration and preservation of Temple B'nai Israel, so we'll share behind-the-scenes insights from the world of historic preservation.

You'll also meet our friends at the Historic Natchez Foundation, the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, and the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture, who will tell us about the history of Natchez and ongoing efforts to truthfully and accurately interpret the city's complicated past.

Past Program: Why Study Southern Jewish History?
Dr. Josh Parshall, ISJL Director of History, gave us an introduction to southern Jewish history.

If you missed the session, it's available any time on our website.

We learned about the early history of Jewish life in what is now the United States, the ways in which Jews contributed and responded to economic development in the South, and the changing dynamics of southern Jewish communities in the twentieth century.

Josh also told us about his work as editor of the ISJL's Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities, an online resource featuring rich, concise articles about every southern town that has ever had a Jewish presence.

Our hope is that you got a sense of the big themes and key concepts in southern Jewish history—they'll help give you context for future ISJL Virtual Vacation Sessions.
Sanford (Florida) Jewish Community Center, 1944
Image credit: State Archives of Florida
Go Deeper
Each week, this space will include opportunities to engage with southern Jewish history and the topics we've covered in the week's session. Have suggestions for the kinds of information you'd like to receive in this email? Have more questions about one of our live streams? Email us at heritage@isjl.org.
Next week, we'll learn about the Jewish history of Natchez, Mississippi. To learn about contemporary Jewish life in Natchez and efforts to tell the story of Natchez's Jews, listen to "The Last Jews of Natchez," an episode of the excellent podcast Gravy, produced by the Southern Foodways Alliance.

We asked a big question in our session this week: why study southern Jewish history? This question still looms large in the field, and the answers change as we learn more about the southern Jewish experience in both the past and present. Dig into this question with Dr. Gary Zola, Executive Director of The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives and Professor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. His article "Why Study Southern Jewish History?" was published in Southern Jewish History in 1998.

If you're fascinated by cemeteries, you'll definitely want to read more about the Natchez City Cemetery, documented in the New York Times last year. This article tells the story of the people from all walks of life who called the city home, and who are now interred together on the bluffs above the Mississippi River. Consider taking a walk through the cemetery in your town and taking a look at the names, birth and death dates, and places of origin of the people buried there—there are sure to be some surprises and unique stories!

Forward this email to someone who you think would love the ISJL Virtual Vacation—we appreciate your help spreading the word about this program!
The Natchez Jewish Experience, an award-winning documentary film about the Natchez Jewish community produced in 1994.
Natchez historian and Temple B'nai Israel Board member Teri Tillman with members of the Southern Jewish Historical Society in the Jewish section of the Natchez City Cemetery.
Welcome to the ISJL Virtual Vacation!
We're excited to introduce you to the South’s vibrant cultural heritage, the big themes of southern Jewish history, the folks working to advance social justice in the South, and our region’s natural beauty, music, and food. There’s so much to explore—join us for a summer vacation from the comfort of your home!

Weekly digital events—live on the ISJL Facebook page and available any time on the ISJL Virtual Vacation website—feature museums, historic sites, scholars, chefs, and more from across the region.

Sign up now to join the journey. We're excited to travel with you, wherever you are.
To support this program and others like it, please consider donating to the ISJL.
Start your virtual southern Jewish journey with ISJL resources designed to provide engaging windows into the history of the Jewish South.
The ISJL's Virtual Road Trip Through the Jewish South is an interactive collection of online resources accessible from anywhere. Check it out and get inspired before you begin the Virtual Vacation!
We'll travel again soon! When it's safe to hit the road, the ISJL can build a variety of trips through different southern states, emphasizing southern Jewish life, Civil Rights history, and southern culture. It's never too early to start planning your group's next adventure!