“Shalom. Make yourself at home.”

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience is open 6 days a week (closed on Tuesdays) from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Shalom. Make yourself at home.

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience explores the many ways that Jews in the American South influenced and were influenced by the distinct cultural heritage of their new homes. Through exhibits, collections and programs focused on the unique and remarkable history of Southern Jews, the Museum encourages new understanding and appreciation for identity, diversity, and acceptance. Learn more.

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, & Atlanta, GA

WHAT IS THE SOUTHERN JEWISH EXPERIENCE?

The Southern Jewish experience is 19th century immigrant peddlers traveling unpaved roads, carrying hard-boiled eggs with them as they struggle to keep kosher in the land of pork. It’s small-town merchants keeping their stores open on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, because that’s the day everyone comes to town to shop. The Southern Jewish experience is driving your child from Natchez to Baton Rouge every Sunday for religious school because there is no religious school in Natchez. It’s taking Jewish athletes from across the country competing in the Birmingham Maccabi Games to visit the Civil Rights Museum, cheering for the local high school football team, even though Friday Night Lights has a very different meaning, and debating whether to have a bluegrass band or a klezmer band at your wedding. It’s Vandy, UNC, Texas, and Ole Miss students attending High Holiday services at Hillel, because there are no services held in their hometowns

Although representing less than 1% of southern states’ population, and only 2.1% of America’s Jewish population, Southern Jews have made a substantial mark on the communities where they lived and the nation as a whole. Southern cities and towns have had Jewish mayors, sheriffs, council members and civic leaders, in highly disproportionate numbers. And this occurred in the nation’s “Bible Belt,” a region steeped in deep Christian faith and a loyal grip on its distinctive ways.

The Southern Jewish Experience shines a light on the experiences of strangers in a strange land—who must adapt, accommodate, conform to their surroundings, and at the same time embrace, sustain, and celebrate their unique history, culture, and religious practices. But it is also a great testament to the soul of the Southerner, who accepted and encouraged their Jewish neighbors as members of the community: leaders, partners, and friends.

The Southern Jewish experience is 19th century immigrant peddlers traveling unpaved roads, carrying hard-boiled eggs with them as they struggle to keep kosher in the land of pork. It’s small-town merchants keeping their stores open on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, because that’s the day everyone comes to town to shop. The Southern Jewish experience is driving your child from Natchez to Baton Rouge every Sunday for religious school because there is no religious school in Natchez. It’s taking Jewish athletes from across the country competing in the Birmingham Maccabi Games to visit the Civil Rights Museum, cheering for the local high school football team, even though Friday Night Lights has a very different meaning, and debating whether to have a bluegrass band or a klezmer band at your wedding. It’s Vandy, UNC, Texas, and Ole Miss students attending High Holiday services at Hillel, because there are no services held in their hometowns.

WHAT IS THE SOUTHERN

Although representing less than 1% of southern states’ population, and only 2.1% of America’s Jewish population, Southern Jews have made a substantial mark on the communities where they lived and the nation as a whole. Southern cities and towns have had Jewish mayors, sheriffs, council members and civic leaders, in highly disproportionate numbers. And this occurred in the nation’s “Bible Belt,” a region steeped in deep Christian faith and a loyal grip on its distinctive ways.

The Southern Jewish Experience shines a light on the experiences of strangers in a strange land—who must adapt, accommodate, conform to their surroundings, and at the same time embrace, sustain, and celebrate their unique history, culture, and religious practices. But it is also a great testament to the soul of the Southerner, who accepted and encouraged their Jewish neighbors as members of the community: leaders, partners, and friends.

JEWISH EXPERIENCE?

Explore our stories… and reflect on your own!

Share your Stories

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience is composed of stories that span centuries, regions, and backgrounds.

You don’t have to be Southern and you don’t have to be Jewish to have had a Southern Jewish Experience.

Do you have a Southern Jewish experience that should be added to the Museum?

We’d love to hear yours!

Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events at this time.