The Southern Shmooze
April 2020
"Shalom. Make yourself at home... your own home, for now!"
We Continue to Build
This is a challenging time for our families, our communities, our nation, and the world. The COVID-19 virus poses a serious health risk to every one of us and particularly to senior citizens and people with underlying health conditions. We have many museum supporters who are members of the healthcare community across the country, and to them we give our heartfelt thanks as they serve on the frontlines of the crisis.

Here at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, we are adjusting to the new realities by working remotely. Since the Museum is not yet open to the public, that's a fairly easy thing to do. But working we are, and working hard: finalizing our exhibit design, contracting for exhibit fabrication, cataloguing our ever-growing collection of artifacts, and planning for a fall 2020 opening. Our vision is clear, our mission is at hand, and with the support of you all, we will succeed.

If you are able at this time, please support our efforts, and... WASH. YOUR. HANDS.
A Message from the Director
As some of your know, before I took on the challenge of opening the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, I spent 18 years ( Chai! ) as d irector of education at The National WWII Museum, in New Orleans.*

Not a day goes by that I don't use my experiences there to inform my actions here. But of all the historical lessons I learned--about military strategy, maximizing industrial capacity, the importance of alliances, and the undeniable importance of bravery and sacrifice--the most important lesson I learned was about optimism. Not unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky optimism, but the kind of optimism that keeps one going, without a guarantee of what's ahead, but with a steady belief that you will ultimately prevail.

While optimism was important for the 16 million soldiers who served in the military, I think it was even more important for the 116 million folks on the Home Front. And nothing helped keep people optimistic more than music (and those great speeches from FDR).

Here are some lyrics of optimism from an earlier time that I've been thinking about lately...
Accentuate the Positive
(music by Jewish composer Harold Arlen)

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandem onium's
Liable to walk upon the scene.
We Did It Before, We'll Do It Again
(by Jewish songwriters Cliff Friend & Charles Tobias)

We did it before and we can do it again
and we will do it again,
We've got a heck of a job to do
but you can bet that we'll see it thru.
When the Lights Go On Again
(by Jewish songwriters Benny Benjamin, Sol Marcus, & Eddie Seiler)

When the lights go on again all over the world
And the boys are home again all over the world
And rain or snow is all that may fall from the skies above
A kiss won't mean "goodbye" but "Hello to love.
And, of course, who could forget...

When der fuehrer says we is de master race
We heil ( pffft ) heil ( pffft ) right in der fueher's face!
Let's all stay positive, help each other, and look forward to a time when we can share our Southern Jewish hospitality again!

Grits & Gribenes,
Kenneth Hoffman, Executive Director
*Funny story: when the D-Day Museum opened on June 6, 2000, we had a wonderful parade of WWII veterans in front of our building and throughout downtown New Orleans. Dignitaries, including senators, generals, the secretary of defense, and even Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony. I missed the whole thing because I was re-stocking the bathrooms with toilet paper.

Now I'm opening another museum... and toilet paper is playing a part!!!
Bored at Home?
We have three ways that you can help the MSJE:
We're still looking for photos of camp sweethearts. If you married your Southern Jewish camp sweetheart, we want to include you in the Museum. Just email us two photographs: one of the two of you at camp and one from your wedding. Be sure to tell us the story of your romance and the date and place of your wedding.
We will be including images of stained glass from synagogues throughout the South in the Museum. If you're at your synagogue ( not touching anyone or anything ), take a photo or two of part of the stained glass that you like. Try to get close up, so the resolution will be high. Then email us your photos. Be sure to tell us the name of your congregation and where it's located.
Got a Southern Jewish cookbook, maybe from your Sisterhood, Hadassah, or congregation? If you're willing to donate it to the Museum, let us know . Don't worry if it's got food stains on it--that only makes it nicer still! We're trying to build up a library of cookbooks that show the influences of regional cuisines on Jewish cooking. Do you have a favorite Southern Jewish recipe?
Get a Mezuzah/Give a Mezuzah
Join the Mezuzah Society

We now have more than 120 members of the Mezuzah Society, a special donation level group, that let's you honor your family. Members receive a handmade commemorative mezuzah and in turn are invited to send us a mezuzah of their liking, dedicated to their family, to be displayed inside the Museum for all to see.
This Month in Southern Jewish History
As we celebrate Passover this month, let's take a look at some holiday headlines from across the South over the years. We can giggle over some of the phrasing, but the real delight is in knowing that these communities recognized and wanted to learn more about their Jewish friends and neighbors.
Arkansas Democrat , Little Rock, Arkansas, April 1, 1881
The Birmingham Times , Birmingham, Alabama, April 11, 1903
Asheville Citizen-Times , Asheville, North Carolina, April 12, 1906
Waco Tribune-Herald , Waco, Texas, April 16, 1933
Messenger-Inquirer , Owensboro, Kentucky, April 17, 1921
Pensacola News Journal , Pensacola, Florida, April 18, 1913

The Times , Shreveport, Louisiana, April 10, 1941
The Greenville News , Greenville, South Carolina, April 18, 1943
Chattanooga Daily Times , Chattanooga, Tennessee, April 6, 1890
The Bristow Record , Bristow, Oklahoma, April 10, 1914
We Need YOUR Support
  • Give Online safely and easily at:
  • Mail a Check to: MSJE, PO Box 15071, New Orleans, LA 70175
  • Designate MSJE as a recipient of your Donor Advised Fund
  • Donate Stock or other marketable securities
  • Donate from your IRA's required distribution

For more information about any of these ways t o support MSJE,
contact Asia Stamey at .  
If They're Not Shmoozin'...
Know someone who likes to shmooze and would like to receive The Southern Shmooze ? Share this sign-up link with them: . And t hey can enjoy past issues of our newsletter here:
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