Essay on The Fall And The Rise Of The Jewish South

Essay on The Fall And The Rise Of The Jewish South

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In Eli Evan’s The Provincials and Stuart Rockoff’s piece “The Fall and the Rise of the Jewish South” the reader looks at the changing life and times for people of Jewish ancestry in the American south. Since the 1950’s, the Jewish south has experienced rife anti-semitism, a demographic shift as small town populations significantly decreased while large cities grew, and social change due to the civil rights movement.
The small town south experienced an exodus of its Jewish population following World War II. The war significantly changed the economy of the south. It drained the farming population, changed methods of federal spending, and led to the mechanization of production along with the decrease of cotton as the “king” export. Instead, soybeans became the chief export of Southern agriculture. (Rockoff. Jewish Roots in Southern Soil. 284) For the most part, these towns lost their younger generations as they left for war or to pursue a higher education. These heroes and academics were not eager to return; the rural Jewish south was shrinking and many saw greater economic opportunity in growing southern cities like Atlanta. The small towns of the rural south had defined the old paradigm of southern Jewish life when European Jewish immigrants settled in America as peddlers, and later business owners. During the 1800s, they established synagogues and became supporters of the reform movement, which helped them to assimilate as southern whites. The new paradigm saw a changing notion of a stronger Jewish voice in the community, Jewish population growth in large cities, and a transformation of business structures from downtown stores to shopping centers.
World War II also led to an increase of Jewish refugees, most of whom arrived at E...

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... is the Hanukkah staple of latkes and applesauce along with Jewish bagels. Traditional food is one of the ways that the Jewish religion lives on despite the lack of practice. Judaism has always focused on lineage, and certainly food connects people to their history. Today, the Jewish South is a conglomeration of many different themes and portrayals of Judaism, there is no one true definition nor will there ever be. Instead, Judaism is the quiet force that binds a people through history and food ways and on a lesser scale in the south is a distinct religion uniting them through synagogue and practice. The Provincials tells this story of rags to riches and back again of the historical record of Jews in the modern south along with the creation of a New Jewish South, and is the essential all encompassing document for understanding the Jewish south, both past and present.

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