Homelands: Southern Jewish Identity in Durham-Chapel Hill by Leonard Rogoff

By Leonard Rogoff

Homelands blends oral historical past, documentary reports, and quantitative study to give a colourful neighborhood background with a lot to claim approximately multicultural id within the South. Homelands is a case examine of a special ethnic team in North America--small-town southern Jews. either Jews and southerners, Leonard Rogoff issues out, have lengthy struggled with questions of identification and no matter if to hold their variations or try and assimilate into the nationalculture. Rogoff exhibits how, as immigrant Jews grew to become small-town southerners,they continuously renegotiated their identities and reinvented their histories.The Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish neighborhood used to be shaped in the course of the Eighties and Eighteen Nineties, whilst the South was once recuperating from the Reconstruction period and Jews have been experiencing ever-growing immigration in addition to tough the spiritual traditionalism of the former 4,000 years. Durham and Chapel Hill Jews, contemporary arrivals from the normal societies of jap Europe, assimilated and secularized as they lessened their alterations with different americans. a few Jews assimilated via intermarriage and conversion, however the trajectory of the group as an entire was once towards maintaining their non secular and ethnic alterations whereas trying to combine with their neighbors.The Durham-Chapel Hill zone is uniquely suited for the examine of the southern Jewish adventure, Rogoff continues, as the area is exemplary of 2 significant developments: the nationwide inhabitants flow southward and the increase of Jews into the professions. The Jewish peddler and storekeeper of the Eighties and the health care professional and professor of the Nineteen Nineties, Rogoff says, are consultant figures of either Jewish upward mobility and southern growth.

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36 Over the course of nineteenth century, as German Jews entered the national economy and gained political rights, they abandoned Yiddish for German, modernized their religious Orthodoxy, and, as Germany urbanized, entered the bourgeoisie. Even before their departure from Europe, Jews in Bavaria and southwestern Germany had felt the emancipating influences of the Enlightenment and Napoleonic conquest. Forces of haskalah (Jewish enlightenment), acculturation, and religious reform gradually and unevenly were working their way eastward through Jewish communities across Europe.

Clara Mohsberg's brother, Simeon Fleishman of the Richmond firm of Heller and Fleishman, paid a call to Durham in 1877. No doubt he supplied his kinsmen's store with his firm's shoes, trunks, and satchels. Soon thereafter, he became the store's bookkeeper. 2 Supported by family credit,Jews were economically resilient and independent. " The store failed after three months. Their father, a wealthy Richmond merchant, paid their debts, saving the family from embarrassment. When Joseph Kempner's store failed, his brother-in-law, Isaac Levy, a merchant from Enfield, went to Baltimore to compromise his debts 28 A GERMAN JEWISH COLONY with his suppliers.

Kronheimer opened a department store that grew into the town's largest. Several American-born Jewish men of German origin remained after marrying the daughters of local east European immigrants. 34 If a Jewish community were to survive, the town would need to draw Russian immigrants. Those southern small towns that did not draw an east European migration, historian Lee Shai Weissbach notes, saw their Jewish communities wither and often die. With their net worth secured only by inventory, Jews tended to move on.

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