To the average reader of American Jewish history, it would seem that Jews only lived and worked in the New York area. Actually, Jews have had a distinguished history in the south since the 17th century. Up until the 1820’s, more Jews lived in Charleston, South Carolina, than in New York City! Two of the nation’s earliest and most important Jewish congregations were founded in Savannah, Georgia in 1773 and Charleston in 1749. This Jewish history, plus more, is found in Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History, edited by Marcie Cohen Ferris and Mark I. Greenberg. The anthology provides thirteen fascinating articles on a variety of topics including southern Jewish women writers, African American-Jewish relations, Jewish peddlers, Jewish Confederates, and the blossoming of Reform Judaism in the region. The book will delight erudite scholars and “snowbirds” who go “south” to escape the cold weather and would like to learn how Jews shaped the region.
Marcia Cohen Ferris is the associate director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and assistant professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mark I. Greenberg is director of the Florida Studies Center and Special Collections Department at the University of South Florida. Index, notes, selected bibliography.