The Southern Shmooze
September 2019
Shanah Tova ✡︎ שנה טובה ✡︎ Happy New Year
A Time For Commitment
Source: The Tampa Times , September 18, 1930
Although the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur come in late September and early October this year, it's never too soon to start making commitments for the upcoming Jewish year of 5780. (We think you know where this is going.) The Museum is now about one year out from opening in downtown New Orleans. There is much to do and we are busy designing wonderful exhibits, c ollecting wonderful artifacts and stories, and thanking wonderful people who have made a commitment to the Museum's success. Of course... we could be busier.

We could be writing even more thank-you letters, meeting more people "for coffee," and adding more names to our Founders Wall and Mezuzah Society. If you have already made your commitment to the Museum--THANK YOU! But if you have not yet, now is the time. Remember what Hillel said, "If not now, When?"
From the Collection: The Leg
There are many things you might expect us to have in our collection: prayerbooks, menorahs, photo albums, store ledgers. You might not expect to find a prosthetic leg, complete with sock and shoe. That is the wonder of our collection and the splendor of the Southern Jewish experience.

The leg belonged to Fred Galanty, who ran Galanty's Mens Wear and Stockner's Ladies Fashion Shop, in Lake Providence, LA, from 1896 until his death in 1939. In 1929, Mr. Galanty was run over in the street by a fire wagon (pictured below) and the ensuing infection necessitated the amputation of his leg. Following a train trip down to New Orleans to be fitted with a prosthetic, Mr. Galanty returned to his store and served his customers--almost exclusively non-Jewish residents of East Carrol Parish--behind the counter of his store while standing on this leg.
Born in Poland in 1877, Fred immigrated to the US, made his way first to Cincinnati and then to Lake Providence, a river town in northeastern Louisiana that prospered due to the surrounding Delta cotton economy. He married Sallie Stockner, a local Jewish woman, and opened his business with a brother and later with two nephews. His businesses thrived and he invested his profits in land and city properties. When he built Sallie a new house with TWO bathrooms, unbelieving locals and visitors alike asked to see them.
Fred Galanty suffered a heart attack inside his store at age 65 and was taken across the river to Vicksburg, where he died. He is buried next to family in Cincinnati. The local paper noted: "Mr. Galanty was one of the best men of this community.... He was known for his liberality and never turned down any requests for aid to the needy and for advancement of his town."
Southern Jewish Cemeteries
T hroughout the South, cemeteries attest to the long presence of Jews in communities large and small. In some communities, the Jewish cemeteries are the only reminders of a once-vibrant Jewish presence. If you are interested in Southern Jewish history, there is a lot to be learned here.

When Jews first arrived in an area, the first thing they did--long before building a synagogue--was create a Chevra Kedusha , or burial society, to properly bury their dead. Taking care of the dead is considered one of the holiest mitzvot , or commandments, because it is an act the recipient cannot return. The earliest burials were often in specially consecrated ground within an established cemetery. When they were able, the local Jewish community most often purchased land for a cemetery of their own.

Early headstones were often carved only in Hebrew. More recent headstones include Hebrew and English, and often only English. If you visit a Jewish cemetery, you may see small stones atop some grave markers. These have been left by family and friends to show that the dead are not forgotten. Did you know...
Seven-year-old Rosalie Beekman was the only known casualty of the Union bombardment of Natchez, MS, during the Civil War. She is buried in a Jewish section of the cemetery there.
In the nearby town of Port Gibson, MS, the gravestone of Leopold Levy includes an upside down Hebrew inscription--presumably because the local carver didn't know Hebrew. Photo by Bill Aron
It is respectful to bury Jewish prayerbooks, sacred texts, and some ritual objects that have been damaged over time, like in Temple Ohabai Shalom's cemetery in Nashville, TN.
❤️ Calling All Camp Sweethearts ❤️
Were you a camper or a counselor at a Jewish summer camp in the South? Did you have a camp sweetheart? Did you marry your sweetheart? For many Jewish kids growing up in the South, particularly in small towns, summer camping is an important way to meet and socialize with other Jewish youth. Many life-long relationships develop--and some lead to the chuppah (Jewish wedding canopy).

The Museum is creating a display of photographs like these of Naomi Schiffman Orlansky and Larry Orlansky, at Jacobs Camp, in Mississippi in 1979, and four years later at their wedding in New Orleans, at Tikvat Shalom.
If you met your spouse at Jacobs, Greene, Barney, Coleman, Darom, Blue Star, CYJ, Echo Hill or other Southern Jewish summer camp and you have photographs like these that you're willing to share, we'd love to include them in our exhibit. You can email copies below. Please include your names, your hometowns, the name of the camp you attended, where and when you were married, and any special story about how you met. And... MAZEL TOV!
Words of Wisdom...
Some thoughts on Southern Jewish history and MSJE from our supporters:

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience is the finest reply to the often-heard comment, “I didn’t know there were Jews in the South!”
--Deborah Lamensdorf Jacobs, Cary, MS and Atlanta, GA
Our grandfathers immigrated here from the “old country” and all became successful merchants in Knoxville, TN, Oneonta, AL, and New Orleans, LA. It is my hope that their struggles, joys, hardships, and accomplishments will always be remembered in this museum.”
--Cathy Bart, New Orleans, LA

I knew Sammy Isenberg growing up in Charleston, MS. He survived Dachau and fit me for shoes when I was a child. His experience will not leave me for my life on this Earth. How could anyone treat such a nice man that way. We Delta kids weren't Jews or Gentiles. We were just kids.
--Ewin Henson, Greenwood, MS
Meet Our Intern
While we're excited about fall coming to New Orleans, we're sad to see our summer interns go. This month we're highlighting Museum intern Sam, who worked on numerous projects ranging from our collection move to research for the State-by-State interactive exhibition. Here's his reflection about working with MSJE:

"My name is Sam and I am a rising senior at Tulane. I am an English major with minors in Political Science and Social Entrepreneurship, which I hope to translate into a career in nonprofit and museum work. I believe that museums like the MSJE can be agents of change because the more people understand each other, the more they accept each other.

This has become even more clear to me because, through this internship, my preconceptions of small towns in the South has changed. In researching the stories of Jewish families from small towns in the South, I braced myself for incidents of exclusion and violence. While there were some of these, there was also a through-line of acceptance and celebration. I believe that visitors to the Museum will come away with an understanding that the Southern Jewish experience has always been dynamic; worthy of joy, sadness, shame, and pride; and I am honored to have helped tell the story."

Thanks for all of your hard work, Sam! If you or someone you know is interested in interning with the MSJE, let us know!
Your Funds / Our Future
Do you have a donor-advised or designated fund at your community foundation or Jewish Endowment Foundation? Do you have a private foundation ? Please consider designating the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience as a one-time or on-going recipient of your support. It's an easy and meaningful way to help MSJE grow and prosper.

For more information, contact Executive Director Kenneth Hoffman
at   or call 504-338-4683.  
We're Hiring
The Museum is looking for a full-time development coordinator with at least three years of fundraising experience to help us implement our inaugural capital campaign and beyond. Do you know someone who wants to join our small team and make big things happen?
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We can't do this without you...
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