The Southern Shmooze
February 2020
Mardi Gras Mishigas*
It's Carnival time here in New Orleans (yes, and in Mobile). There is a complicated history between Jews and Mardi Gras. In the Old Country, any Christian holiday could spell trouble for the local Jews. As Carnival provides a last hoorah before Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season leading to Easter, most Jews found it wise to lay low and hope for the best.
Would the New World provide a remedy to the anti-Semitism of the Old? In a word, yes. In another word, no. There would be no inquisitions or pogroms here, but Mardi Gras brought about a subtler level of anti-Semitism in the form of social exclusion. Most of the original Mardi Gras clubs--or krewes--would not admit Jews as members. This might seem like an understandable restriction considering Mardi Gras's Christian basis. But Carnival krewes--their parades, their balls, and their secret meetings--were never really about religion; they were about social standing, business relations, and having a good time.
But times, attitudes, customs can change over the years--and they have. Rex and many other krewes now have Jewish members. Touro Synagogue, right on the St. Charles Avenue parade route, erects a specially-accessible viewing stand so children with disabilities from throughout the community can enjoy the parades. And New Orleans boasts not one, but two Jewish-themed parade organizations: Krewe du Jieux and Krewe du Mishigas .
The Museum is also on the parade route. So, yes, get excited about the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience opening this fall. Just keep in mind that we'll be closed on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, on Tuesday, March 1, 2022, on Tuesday, February 21, 2023...

* Mishigas is Yiddish for craziness.
Board Member Spotlight: Morris Mintz
As I write this message I am filled with hope and excitement about the realization of a vision that began years ago as little more than a pipe dream. The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans is on track to open in early fall 2020.

When talking about the Museum, one question I am often asked is, “ Why?” Why is it important to tell the story of Southern Jewry? Why now? Why should we care? The answers are both personal and collective in nature and are as varied as there are Jews and interested non-Jews.  
For me, ultimately, it about l’dor vador (Hebrew for from generation to generation ). It is about remembering where I come—just one or two generations an American and a Southerner, and about helping my children and grandchildren learn to cherish their heritage. It is also about non-Jews who will gain a broader understanding of how we Jews contributed to our communities and what Torah teaches us to value. And it is a reminder that it was immigrants, Jews and countless others--most by their own choosing but others at the point of a gun and the end of a whip--who built this work-in-progress called the United States of America. 

I hope you will join me in supporting the Museum and its mission, and in so doing add your voice to the conversation—Southern Jewish or not. If you haven’t heard about our  leadership giving  opportunities,  please contact us  so that we can give you details. And if you want to participate at any level,  don’t delay!   Join our campaign by donating online today!
Morris serves on the executive committee of the board of directors and co-chairs MSJE's capital campaign.
From the Collection: Love is in the Air
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the War Brides Act, passed by Congress in 1945 to allow foreign-born spouses of American G.I.s to immigrate to the United States following World War II. The MSJE collection includes the international love story of one family brought together by the War Brides Act: Albert and Pearl (Jacobs) Daube.

Al was born in 1925 in Germany and came to the United States in 1937 as a refugee fleeing the Third Reich. Sponsored by family relations in Oklahoma, he lived in the American South only a few years before being drafted into the army and shipped off to England.
While stationed in the U.K., Albert met Pearl on a double-date in early 1944, and continued visiting her during his weekly trips to Manchester for laundry duty. He endeared himself to her mother with gifts of American chocolate and cigarettes. Soon, however, Al joined the fighting on the continent.

When the war ended, Al received leave to marry Pearl in a rushed courtroom ceremony in England, and then was sent back to the United States. As a British citizen, Pearl had to remain in England after their wedding. The passing of the War Brides Act allowed Pearl to immigrate to the United States in 1946. Our collection includes artifacts from Pearl’s voyage on the Queen Mary, including a well-wishes card signed by the captain of the ship and fellow war brides, a menu from the voyage, and a telegram from Albert to Pearl upon arrival in the United States, reading: “Darling welcome to America / Hoping you had a good trip across… / Getting awful impatient."  
According to David Daube, his parents’ relationship was defined by duty and loyalty. Sue Daube added that her mother-in-law Pearl was raised to be a “good English housewife,” even going so far as to put toothpaste on Al’s toothbrush before he told her he could handle that particular task. Pearl and Al were married for 68 years before Pearl’s passing in 2013. Albert passed away in 2015. May their memories be for a blessing.
Mezuzah Society Growing Like Kudzu
(but in a good way)
Last month we introduced the Mezuzah Society , a donation level starting at $1,800 that recognizes donors with an artistic installation made up of mezuzahs they send to the Museum. In return, Mezuzah Society members receive a specially-designed mezuzah, hand made right here in New Orleans.

At this time, we are proud to announce that we already have more than 100 members of the Mezuzah Society, representing Museum supports in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee.

Honor your family's Southern Jewish roots by dedicating
a mezuzah in their name.
Southern Jewish History Lecture Planned
MSJE is honored to co-sponsor a lecture by Dr. Hasia Diner , New York University Professor of American Jewish History. She is a true rockstar in the field of American Jewish history.

Dr. Diner's talk, titled "Jews of the South and the Perils of Acceptance," is a Tulane Department of Jewish Studies Marian & Byron Strug Lecture. The department's chairman, Dr. Michael Cohen, is serving ably as the Museum's senior historical advisor.

WHEN: Wednesday, February 5, 2020. 7:00pm
WHERE: Tulane University - Goldring/Woldenberg Hall (A. B. Freeman School of Business Building), 7 McAlister Dr., New Orleans, Maurine Family Executive Dining Room - Room 460

This lecture is FREE and open to the public . No reservations required.
This Month in Southern Jewish History
February 4, 1861
Judah P. Benjamin, the first Jew elected to the US Senate who had not renounced his faith (Florida's David Levy Yulee had converted to Christianity), resigns from the Senate nine days after Louisiana secedes from the Union. On February 25, Benjamin is appointed Attorney General by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Later during the Civil War, he served as Secretary of War and Secretary of State.
February 11, 1921
The Jewish Monitor, published weekly in Dallas, Texas, issues its first annual Waco Edition, complete with biographical sketches of Rabbis Wolfe Macht and Isaac Siegel, businessmen Louey Migel and Asher Sanger, and Waco founder Jacob DeCordova. Also included are the goings-on at Congregation Rodef Sholom, the B'nai B'rith's Eureka Lodge, the Council of Jewish Women, and The Progress Club.
February 13, 1872
The Rex Organization holds its first parade on Mardi Gras Day. The "krewe" was organized by local businessman Louis Solomon, in part to honor the visiting Grand Duke of Russia, Alexei Alexandrovich. Much is made of Rex--one of the most prominent Carnival krewes around--being founded by a Jew, but in truth, Solomon had converted to Catholicism a decade earlier just before enlisting to fight for the Confederacy.
February 22, 1939
The Jewish community of Miami, Florida, takes pride when Jewish Heavyweight contender Abe Feldman meets Tony Galento in Burdine Stadium. Unfortunately, Feldman goes down in the third round, losing on a TKO. However, on the undercard, Jewish fighter Solly Kreiger defended his Middleweight Championship against challenger Ben Brown. Jewish mothers throughout Miami just hoped nobody got hurt.
February 23, 1900
M ishkan Israel Synagogue is dedicated in Selma, Alabama. At the time, Selma had a thriving Jewish population and Jewish merchants like Teppers, Kaysers, Liepolds, Rothchilds, Adler Furniture, Benish and Meyer Tobacco, Siegel Automobile Company, Barton’s Bargain Store, Bendersky’s and Eagles dominated the shopping district. Today the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
February 29, 1916
Dinah Shore is born in Winchester, Tenn essee , as Fannye Rose Shore to Russian-Jewish immigrant shopkeepers, Anna (née Stein) and Solomon Shore. Surviving polio as a child, she went on to become a highly successful singing, film and television star. On TV, she became a spokeswoman for Chevrolet, making "See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet" a nationally-recognized jingle.
Help us NOW to open LATER this year...
  • Give Online safely and easily at: www.msje.org/support
  • 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 Development Coordinator Asia Stamey at asia@msje.org .  
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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