The Southern Shmooze
September 2020
5781: What Will the Year Bring?
The Times and Democrat, Orangeburg, SC, August 22, 1888
September brings us the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It's something of a re-set for Jews, a starting over, an unplug-it-wait-30-seconds-and plug-it-back-in. "Thank you for calling Yiddishe tech support. Have a shana tova (good year)."

This month, whether you are Jewish or not, whether you are observant or not, we'd like you to take a moment to unplug from the tsuris (troubles) of everyday life and think about the year to come. What will it bring for our country, for your community, for your family, and for you? What would you like to see and, most importantly, what can you do to help it happen?

Here in New Orleans, we plan to open the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in the Hebrew year 5781 (2021). That's what we'd like to see and that's what we're working hard to accomplish. We'd also like to see you coming through our front door to share in the Southern Jewish experience. Would you like to see that, too? If so, you can make this happen. It's as simple as one, two, three...

1) Show your support by making a donation to MSJE

2) Wear your mask when out buying Holiday cards, and

3) Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!
From the Collection: Shofar, Sho Good
With the High Holidays just around the corner, it's a perfect time to show off two of our latest acquisitions: a ram's horn shofar (left) from Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation and a kudu horn shofar (below) from Congregation Gates of Prayer, both of New Orleans. These two shofars will become part of our Foundations of Judaism exhibit, sponsored by the Bernard Van der Linden Family.

Shofars are ancient instruments made from animal horns used in Jewish services, like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The shorter, rams' horn shofars are the most common, owing to the availability of sheep throughout much of the world and also because of the presence of a ram in the Genesis story of the binding of Isaac.
Yemenite Jews traditionally used the horn of the greater kudu, native to east Africa, for their shofars. These long twisted horns produce a dramatic site (and sound) when blown in the synagogue and have become widely popular.

Blowing a shofar is much like playing a bugle. There are no keys or finger holes to change the pitch--that is done by the blower's adjusting his or her embouchure (look it up).

Hearing the blasts from a shofar during the High Holidays is a mitzvah (commandment). The ancient sound awakens the spirit and prepares Jews to enter the New Year with a commitment to bettering ourselves and the world.
Some Recent Pics...
As seen in and around the Museum
Renovations on our portion of the Howard Avenue building near completion. Just picture yourself stepping off the streetcar and walking through our front door!
We're not going to try to sell you a sidewalk brick. Instead, we want to give you a hand-blown glass MSJE mezuzah. Join the Mezuzah Society here.
You'll want to take this new elevator to our Special Exhibit Gallery on the second floor. That's also where our classroom will educate students and adults alike.
Local photographer Scott Saltzman does a tricky balancing act with his tripod as he captures a photo of the ark inside Anshe Sfard. He masks because he cares.
We are measuring our artifacts to ready them for exhibition. Each artifact--like this ketubah (marriage contract) and Hebrew/German prayerbook--has a specially-made mount that securely holds and displays it in its exhibit case.
More measuring, this time for our Southern Jews in Popular Culture exhibit. If you were to measure the Oklahoma-born wrestler Goldberg in person, you would need a much larger ruler!
Growing Up Jewish in the Delta:
A Conversation with Deborah Lamensdorf Jacobs
Sunday, September 13, 7:00pm Central
The Mississippi Delta has been called "the most Southern place on earth." It's filled with some of the most fertile cotton-growing land in the world, it's the birthplace of the blues, and it's been home to immigrants from Italy, China, and Lebanon, as well as many German and Eastern European Jews. These Jews adapted to economic opportunities, became business and civic leaders, and formed their own network of Jewish communities.

Join us for a conversation with Cary, MS, native and MSJE board member Deborah Lamensdorf Jacobs to learn about her family's Jewish life in the Delta. It's not every Southern Jewish family who owns tallits woven from cotton grown on their own farm!
This program is FREE, but registration is required to participate via Zoom.
You can also watch without registration on Facebook Live at (
If you missed our August program about Preserving Your Family's Stories,
you can watch a recording of it here:

And Speaking of Live Programs...

This Month in Southern Jewish History
GEORGIA: September 3, 1930
Max Nussbaum of Bainbridge gets some press in the Atlanta Constitution for his transatlantic radio call. Starting in 1927, the first transatlantic calls were conducted by radio signal. Only in 1956 was a telephone cable laid across the ocean to Europe. Nussbaum was instrumental in creating Miller Hydro Company, which manufactured and sold bottle washing machines internationally. He also served as mayor of Bainbridge, 1920-21.
TENNESSEE: September 7, 1893
At the World's Fair in Chicago, members of the Jewish Women's Congress resolve to create the National Council of Jewish Women. In attendance was Lizzie Lee Bloomstein, of Nashville, one of several speakers to address the attendees. Bloomstein, already an American history professor, went on to become a university librarian, an active clubwoman, and a staunch suffragist.
ARKANSAS: September 15, 1958
The Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools holds its first meeting in response to Governor Orval Faubus's closing of the Little Rock public high schools rather than integrating them. Josephine Menkus, Jane Mendel, and many other Jewish women from the Little Rock gave their time and effort to the cause, which eventually proved successful.
MISSISSIPPI: September 18, 1967
Congregation Beth Israel in Jackson is bombed by local Ku Klux Klan members, causing extensive damage. Two months later, the same group bombed Rabbi Perry Nussbaum’s home. Though the rabbi was home with his wife at the time, no one was seriously hurt. Nussbaum was a vocal supporter of integration and civil rights for African Americans.
ALABAMA: September 20, 1912
Wiesel's Mercantile in Tuscaloosa lets its customers know that it will be closed for Yom Kippur. This ad says a lot about Jewish merchant life in the South. Wiesel normally kept his store open on Saturdays, the Jewish sabbath, but observed the High Holidays--and wasn't worried about letting his customers know.
LOUISIANA: September 28, 1861
Samuel Weil and Henry Gerson of Monroe, representing Hebrew Congregation Manassas, paid the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Texas Railroad $231 for land to be used as the “Hebrew Burying Ground." The cemetery, still in use today, was ironically named “Beth Ha-Chaim” (House of Life). 
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Banner images (l-r): Members of Congregation Beth Israel in Clarksdale, MS, c. 1910. Collection of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience; Blue Star campers, North Carolina, 2016. Courtesy of Blue Star Camps.