The Southern Shmooze
January 2020
New Year / New Museum
A Message from Our Chairman
Now that its 2020 let me be the first (or last?) to joke that my vision doesn’t test 20/20 anymore. But, my vision for this year is crystal clear. Because this year we will see the opening of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans.

Stay tuned for announcements that pin down our opening date, but by late summer or early fall you’ll be able to celebrate with us. We are thrilled that our capital campaign enjoys continued success. We are nearing 70% of our initial $10 million goal, and we have yet to roll out a full regional and national campaign. If you haven’t heard from us about our leadership giving opportunities, please contact us so that we can give you some details. If you want to participate at any level, what’s the delay?  Please join our campaign by emailing us or donating online .

Creating a museum takes a lot of effort! But it is a great pleasure to work with our dedicated staff, learn inspiring stories from our supporters, and design engaging exhibits that preserve our history while providing us with important lessons for our future.

MSJE promotes understanding among people of all backgrounds by exploring the history of Jews who came to the South first as strangers, but then built friendships, communities, and meaningful lives--side by side--with their neighbors in cities large and small. So, join us as our countdown begins. Our vision is 2020 sharp and we are waiting to see you at our front door.

Happy New Year,
Jay Tanenbaum, Chairman of the Board
Put Yourself in the MSJE...
Introducing the Mezuzah Society
for donors of $1,800 and higher
For their role in helping to establish the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans, the Museum invites all donors of $1,800 or more to participate in its unique Mezuzah Society installation . Each donor will be asked to send the Museum a mezuzah of their liking to be affixed in an artful assemblage symbolizing their dedication to the Museum.

In return, each Mezuzah Society member will receive a special limited edition mezuzah , designed and hand-made by acclaimed Southern Jewish glass artist Andrew Jackson Pollack, to commemorate the opening of the Museum. We hope that all of our society members will proudly display their MSJE mezuzahs in their homes.
Why Mezuzahs?

The Hebrew word mezuzah means “doorpost.” Mezuzahs are affixed to the doorposts at the entrance to Jewish homes. Each mezuzah contains a small scroll of parchment on which is written two biblical passages. The first, Deuteronomy 6:4–9, makes up the beginning of the V’ahavtah prayer:
Hear, O Israel! The Eternal is our God, the Eternal alone. You shall love the Eternal your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead;
inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates .
The Mezuzah Society display will stand as a beautiful and creative symbol of the founding of the Museum and a loving tribute to those who committed themselves to building a strong institution of history, tradition, culture, and community.

In order for your mezuzah to be included in the Museum's inaugural installation,
it must be received by May 31, 2020.

If you've already donated $1,800 or more, we will soon be sending you your MSJE mezuzah!
In the Pagoda, Down by the Lake,
Behind the Dining Hall...
We're still collecting camp sweetheart/wedding pics from across the South for a museum display about the importance of Jewish camping for strengthening Southern Jewish communities. Generations of campers from Greene, Jacobs, Young Judaea, Blue Star, Barney Medintz, Ramah Darom, Coleman, 6 Points, Echo Hill, and beyond met, fell in love at camp, and later married. Many of these couples have provided the next generation of Southern Jewish campers.
Sarah Lazarus, from New Orleans, and Jeff Lewis, from Memphis, met at Jacobs Camp in Mississippi, in 1991. Sarah was a first year counselor and Jeff was the camp photographer. After four years of long-distance dating, they married at the Royal Orleans Hotel, in December 1995. Sarah and Jeff are excited to be a part of MSJE.

If you married your Southern Jewish camp sweetheart, email us a photo of you two at camp and a wedding photo, and be sure tell us the story of your romance (keep it PG-13).
Support from Across the South... and Beyond
As word spreads of our opening in 2020, support for the Museum is pouring in from across the South and beyond. Is your city represented yet?

Asheville, Atlanta, Austin, Bakersfield, Baton Rouge, Biloxi, Birmingham, Brookhaven, Caldwell, Chapel Hill, Chevy Chase, Chicago, Dallas, Decatur, Denver, El Paso, Fayetteville, Forest Hills, Greensboro, Gulf Breeze, Hattiesburg, Highland Park, Honolulu, Houston, Jackson, Lake Wylie, Lexington, Los Angeles, Madison, Maitland, Marietta, Melville, Memphis, Miami, Mobile, Monroe, Montclair, Nashville, Natchez, New Orleans, New York, Newton, Opelousas, Palm Springs, Ross, San Antonio, Sandy Springs, San Francisco, Shreveport, St. Louis, Toronto, Tybee Island, Wayne, Wynnewood.

Map image: Guide to the United States for Jewish Immigrants, 1913.
Courtesy of the National Museum of American Jewish History.
DID YOU KNOW that you can easily set up a monthly donation to MSJE?
Well, you can, and it's as easy as clicking Recurring Donation when giving online.
You pick the amount to give each month
 ($18, $36, and $54 are nice Jewish numbers, just sayin').
This Month in Southern Jewish History
January 8, 1905
Isidore Newman Manual Training School, in New Orleans, is formally dedicated. The dedication came one day after the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the city's Jewish Orphans Home. Named for its generous patron, the Newman School was established to provide the residents of the nearby orphanage with technical job training, but soon grew to a nationally-recognized school of academic excellence.
January 10, 1847
Jacob Schiff is born. While never a Southern Jew, this successful New York financier was the driving financial force behind the Galveston Movement, which brought 10,000 Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe to the United States through the Texas port of Galveston. As Eastern European Jewish immigration increased in the early 20th century, the Galveston Movement sought to alleviate overcrowding in Eastern cities.
January 12, 1918
Rosa Zimmern Van Vort organizes the Virginia State League of Nursing. Born in Richmond, VA, in 1876, Van Vort trained to be a nurse in both Virginia and New York, headed Virginia's effort to recruit nurses during WWI, and lobbied the medical profession to improve both the training and treatment of nurses. Van Vort served four terms as the president of the Virginia League of Nurses, championing legislation for the 8-hour work day.
January 18, 1854
Judah Touro dies in New Orleans. Known for his philanthropy after gaining success as a New Orleans businessman and ship owner, Touro's greatest generosity came in the form of his will. He left bequests to nearly every Jewish congregation in the United States, many churches in the city, and even charitable projects in Israel (then part of the Ottoman Empire). His name lives on in Touro Synagogue and Touro Infirmary in New Orleans.
January 24, 1889
The first services are held in the newly constructed Temple Emanu-El, in Birmingham, AL. For its first few years, the congregation met in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In 1884 a plot of land was purchased at the corner of 5th Avenue and 17th Street. Five years later, the congregation celebrated the opening of their new temple, led by congregation president and lay rabbi Samuel Ullman.
January 26, 1924
Annette Greenfield Strauss is born in Houston, TX. In 1987, she was elected the first woman and the first Jewish mayor of Dallas, TX. A successful fundraiser for both Jewish and community causes in her adopted home of Dallas, Strauss entered politics with an eye toward bettering the city for all people. In 2000, the University of Texas at Austin established the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Participation in her memory.
There are many ways to support MSJE...

  • 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 .  
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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