The Southern Shmooze
July 2019
Our BIG Move
Question: How do you move a 4,000-piece artifact collection?
Answer: Very, very carefully. And with lots of planning!

This month, we’re giving you a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into moving an entire museum artifact collection, and introducing you to our newest staff member, Anna Tucker.

Because of the importance of this collection, our move required a careful selection of movers, appropriate storage, and insurance. Over the past several months, we painstakingly measured, packed, crated, inventoried, and condition-reported our way through each artifact in our collection.

We look forward to sharing selections from our collection in our New Orleans home in 2020, but until then, check out a sneak peek of our Collection move and select artifacts below!
What Do YOU Think?
As we design our exhibits and plan our programming, we want to hear what you--our Museum supporters--think. This month's question pairs nicely with our story about relocating the Museum's artifact collection from Jackson to New Orleans. Once open, we will only be displaying about 3% of our artifacts in our main exhibits at any one time. But the Museum also has a special exhibit gallery, where we can create unique temporary exhibits from our collection.

What topics or stories would you like to see explored in a special exhibit at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience?
Ask the Director...
We get many questions from Museum supporters, the press, and interested people about the Museum's past, present, and future. Here are two common questions we receive and our Executive Director Kenneth Hoffman's answers:

1. What states does the Museum cover?

Great question, because what is Southern really? There are lots of answers out there, but for a variety of reasons, MSJE covers the following thirteen states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. We know we can't possibly cover every event, every story, and every family across such a wide geography, but we aim to make everyone feel represented in some way.

2. Is this the same Museum that was at Henry S. Jacobs Camp?  

In a word: Yes. In another word: No. The first Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, which was established in 1986 at Jacobs Camp, in Utica, MS, was shuttered in 2012. While it served as a wonderful teaching tool for summer campers and as a repository for artifacts from disappearing Southern Jewish communities, its location made it difficult for the public to visit.

In 2017, the board of the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, in Jackson, MS, voted to separate the Museum from the Institute, giving us the flexibility to re-establish and re-energize the Museum in New Orleans. So, while we look forward to collaborating on future projects with ISJL, the Museum is starting anew, with a new board, new staff, new and expanded exhibits, and an expanded mission to expand people's understanding of what it means to be a Jew, what it means to be a Southerner, and ultimately, what it means to be an American. 
From the Collection: Knickerbocker Hotel Sign
H ot Springs, Arkansas: home of a national park, restorative hot springs, and a remarkably vibrant Southern Jewish history. While the nearby thermal waters were popular early in the 1800s, the small Jewish community in Hot Springs flourished in the decades following the Civil War. Jewish residents opened numerous kosher restaurants and hotels to cater to tourists, including the Knickerbocker Hotel. Louis Darch built the Knickerbocker Hotel in the early 1900s, advertising the establishment as the "only up to date kosher kitchen in this city." The Jewish star on the sign contains the faded word "Kosher" in Hebrew.
The Knickerbocker closed by the mid-1900s as tourism declined, but we have a (large) part of this history in our MSJE collection: the 8-foot neon metal sign which once hung on the exterior of the building. Congregation House of Israel in Hot Springs donated the sign to the MSJE, and the artifact received special care and a custom-made crate when we transported the sign from Jackson to New Orleans last month. The Knickerbocker sign is high on our artifact restoration list!

Do you remember The Knickerbocker Hotel?
Do you have other memories of living in or visiting Hot Springs?
Rabbis and the Civil Rights Movement
A portion of our Museum will be devoted to exploring Southern Jewish activism, with a focus on how Jewish communities reacted to the Civil Rights Movement. We are excited to be working with Stephen Krause, the son of Rabbi P. Allen Krause, to bring his father's 1966 interviews with twelve rabbi s from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia to our visitors.

These were candid, heart-felt conversations that spanned a wide range of opinions on how Jews in the South should and could react to the central social and political issue affecting their communities. To encourage frank answers, Krause promised to keep these interviews private for twenty-five years. Following his father's death in 2012, Stephen worked to get these interviews published and the audiotapes cleaned up. He is excited, as are we, that the public will be able to explore these fascinating pieces of Civil Rights history.

Do you have a personal story or thoughts about living during the Civil Rights Movement? Click below to share it with us.
Shop Till You Plotz !
Looking for a simple and fun way to help MSJE while shopping online?
It's easy-peasy, etrog-squeezy!

  • Choose: Support Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience by shopping at AmazonSmile/MSJE (see below)

  • AmazonSmile is an Amazon charitable foundation. Same products, same services, same prices, same everything, except they donate .5% of your purchase price to us. You don't have to do anything but...

And, as always, please...
and stay connected
Banner images (l-r): Song-leading at Southern Conclavette, Southern Federation of Temple Youth (SoFTY), 1969-1970, Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Anshe Sfard Synagogue on Carondelet Street, New Orleans, Louisiana