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New Orleans is not a typical Southern city. The Jews who have settled in New Orleans from 1757 to the present have had a very different experience than others in the South. New Orleans was a wide-open frontier that attracted gamblers, sailors, con artists, planters, and merchants. Most early Jewish immigrants were bachelors who took Catholic wives, if they married at all. The first congregation, Gates of Mercy, was founded in 1827, and by 1860, four congregations represented Sephardic, French and German, and Polish Jewry. The reform movement, the largest denomination today, took hold after the Civil War with the founding of Temple Sinai. Small as it is in proportion to the population of New Orleans, the Jewish community has made contributions that far exceed their numbers in cultural, educational, and philanthropic gifts to the city.
The early days of Louisiana settlement brought with them a clandestine group of Jewish pioneers. Isaac Monsanto and other traders spited the rarely enforced Code Noir banning their occupancy, but it wasn't until the Louisiana Purchase that larger numbers colonized the area. Immigrants like the Sartorius brothers and Samuel Zemurray made their way from Central and Eastern Europe to settle the bayou country along the Mississippi. They made their homes in and around New Orleans and the Mississippi River delta, establishing congregations like that of Tememe Derech and B'Nai Israel, with the mighty river serving as a mode of transportation and communication, connecting the communities on both sides of the riverbank.
The Jewish presence in northwest Louisiana actually predates the establishment of Shreveport in 1836. From the very beginning, Jews have been part of the city's civic, social, and mercantile life. Pioneer settlers began holding services in private homes in the 1840s, and by 1858 the community was sufficiently large enough to consecrate a Jewish cemetery and the first Jewish benevolent association, a forerunner of today's North Louisiana Jewish Federation. In 1859, the first congregation was founded. In The Jewish Community of Shreveport the rich history of this influential and vibrant citizenry is chronicled by well-known Louisiana historian Eric J. Brock, archivist of Shreveport's B'nai Zion Temple. Nearly 18 decades of Jewish life in Shreveport are depicted in over 200 vintage images, many of which are previously unpublished. Both of the city's synagogues, B'nai Zion and Agudath Achim, are represented, as are many of the rabbis, business leaders, political leaders (including three mayors), and laypeople from the community's long history.
In the year 1800, South Carolina was home to more Jews than any other place in North America. As old as the province of Carolina itself, the Jewish presence has been a vital but little-examined element in the growth of cities and towns, in the economy of slavery and post-slavery society, and in the creation of American Jewish religious identity. The record of a landmark exhibition that will change the way people think about Jewish history and American history, A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life presents a remarkable group of art and cultural objects and a provocative investigation of the characters and circumstances that produced them. The book and exhibition are the products of a seven-year collaboration by the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina, the McKissick Museum of the University of South Carolina, and the College of Charleston. Edited and introduced by Theodore Rosengarten, with original essays by Deborah Dash Moore, Jenna Weissman Joselit, Jack Bass, curator Dale Rosengarten, and Eli N. Evans, A Portion of the People is an important addition to southern arts and letters. A photographic essay by Bill Aron, who has documented Jewish
The kitchen of Henrietta Levine in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where chopped liver is sautTing. Ben and Betty Lee Lamensdorf's farmland in Cary, Mississippi, where cotton, wheat, and pecans are harvested. The New Americans Social Club, a group of Holocaust survivors that meet regularly in New Orleans. The historic and flourishing Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Alabama. From Levy, Arkansas, to Kaplan, Louisiana, Southern Jewish culture is alive and well below the Mason-Dixon line. In Shalom Y'all, award-winning photographer Bill Aron provides a vibrant portrait of contemporary Jewish life, dutifully recording the heroic, funny, and sometimes tragic experiences of a people who have long settled in the Bible Belt. With a moving foreword by Alfred Uhry, author of Driving Miss Daisy, this book covers all aspects of the Jewish experience, from food (chopped liver, of course, but also bagels and grits) to occupations to religious practices to friendships. Together, the text and photographs tell a story of a culture that has managed, with a mixture of good humor, perseverance, and faith, to make a home.
A lively look at southern Jewish history and culture.
Cincinnati Jewish Hospital has remained a beacon of service to the city for more than a century and a half. Although it always accepted patients regardless of their heritage or faith, the institution maintains its Jewish identity. Founded in 1850, the Hospital weathered depressions and wars while reflecting changes that occurred within the Jewish community and the city. Cincinnati’s Jewish health professionals pioneered medical education, new treatments for polio and the introduction of new psychological treatments for children. Author Frederic Krome explores the fascinating history of the Cincinnati Jewish Hospital and the many contributions Cincinnati Jews made to the field of medicine.

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