The Southern Shmooze
June 2019
Welcome to The Southern Shmooze!

We received many wonderful submissions to our Name the Newsletter contest. From those entries our esteemed panel of judges selected The Southern Shmooze, for its alliterative combination of the Museum's two central identities--Southern and Jewish. In Yiddish, to "shmooze" means to chat. It's friendly and casual, informal, yet informative. Some people spell it "schmooze." We're dropping the "c" to save on ink.😉

The winning entrant wishes to remain anonymous.
Exhibit Planning Heats Up
As the temperature rises across the South, we are designing some pretty cool exhibits down in New Orleans. Our design team from Gallagher & Associates was recently in town for two days of meetings and site visits with Museum staff, board, architects, and contractors. 

MSJE's scope includes thirteen states, hundreds of years of history, and thousands of experiences. Creating engaging and educational exhibitions requires numerous conversations about how to cover such a diverse story. So, over coffee and croissants, we spent hours reviewing our key messages, design themes, and historical content. Some of our most important discussions included ways we can include more stories from across the South, the best types of technology to use (and when not to use them), and how we can encourage visitors to think about their own communities, both while in the Museum and after they return home.

We hope you stay cool this summer while our exhibit planning heats up! 
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 gets to the heart of our mission to encourage new understanding and appreciation for identity, diversity, and acceptance:

How can we attract non-Jewish visitors to the Museum?
Expanding Our Team
We are excited to welcome Rachel Stern to the Museum's project team as our Senior Judaic Advisor. Rachel will be instrumental in helping the Museum as we create our "basics of Judaism" exhibit, which will explore Jewish beliefs, customs, holidays, and life-cycle events, using artifacts from our unique collection. 

Rachel holds master’s degrees from Hebrew Union College's Jewish Institute of Religion in Jewish Education and Jewish Non-Profit Management. She has worked in the Jewish non-profit world for more than twenty years serving federations, synagogues, seminaries, and beyond. Rachel most notably served as the first full-time Director of Education for the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life for over 13 years and recently became the Inaugural Director of the Rapoport Center and the Chief Learning and Engagement Officer for Shalom Austin. Rachel and her husband Scott are parents of four college students, Gabe, Lainey, Maddie, and Charlie.
Sharing Stories: A Southern Jew in Berlin
This past month, our Museum director Kenneth Hoffman was fortunate to meet with local lawyer Jessica Greenberg to hear about her grandfather's fascinating WWII story. Harry Nowalsky was a German immigrant raised in New Orleans, who volunteered for service and rose to the rank of captain in the US Army. At the war's end, he served as a civilian affairs officer in Berlin, tasked with denazifying German industry and commerce. Harry was instrumental in opening the first synagogue in postwar Berlin (in time for the 1945 High Holidays) and he facilitated the first adoption of a Jewish orphan--who received Visa #1--by an American.
Before Harry returned to the US, the Berlin Jewish community held a banquet in his honor. At that event, he received a Torah and other beautiful objects of Judaica, including a Seder plate, spice box, Torah breast plates, a Kiddish cup, and an etrog box--all which had been hidden from the Nazis. These objects have been displayed publicly from time to time in New Orleans but are otherwise used by the family--as was intended by the donors.

Jessica has made it a priority in her life to research and share her grandfather's story, even traveling to Berlin on multiple occasions to visit the synagogue, comb through archives, and compile family records and photographs. The MSJE looks forward to assisting Jessica in any way we can!
From the Collection
Click images to enlarge
Ah, June... for many of us, this month brings back memories of vacations, ice cream at the pool, and perhaps most fondly, packing for summer camp. To get you in the summer spirit, here are two pages from the 1969-1970 edition of the Southern Federation of Temple Youth (SoFTY) yearbook, donated by Jacqueline Caplan.

Under the heading "Miracle of Miracles," the SoFTY yearbook staff detail the 1969 groundbreaking for Henry S. Jacobs Camp for Living Judaism, in Utica, MS. The opening of Jacobs Camp the following year marked the establishment of one of the first Reform-affiliated summer camps in the American South.

These yearbook pages describe plans for the original 184-acre site, including camper cabins, a dining hall, an arts & craft building, sports fields, and more. In addition to highlighting the support of Jewish organizations, the description cites support from the local government, noting that "the county in which Utica is located also must be commended [...] in providing good roads and bridges deep into the area, specifically for our use."

We will explore the importance of Jewish summer camping in cultivating strong Southern Jewish identities in our exhibits!

Do you have items from your Southern Jewish summer camp experience to donate to the Museum? Fill out an Artifact Donor Inquiry Form and we'll be in touch.
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