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Dixie Diaspora: An Anthology of Southern Jewish History

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Dixie Diaspora

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Dixie Diaspora
An Anthology of Southern Jewish History
Edited by Mark K. Bauman
The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa (2006)
ISBN: 0-8173-1504-7

Reviewed by Boris Segel - April 14, 2009

The history of Jews in the American South has been overshadowed by an academic prevalence to focus on the larger Jewish communities in the Northeast. In recent years, however, this trend has begun to change as more historians and researches discover the vibrant and diverse history of Jews in the South. In Dixie Diaspora: An Anthology of Southern Jewish History Mark K. Bauman has gathered together some of the finest essays on the subject of Southern Jewish History. These essays serve to highlight current issues in this burgeoning field and to show just how much information is left to be discovered and the numerous areas of the Southern Jewish experience that have yet to be explored. In all, there are sixteen essays in this book, all written by outstanding scholars in their respective fields. The essays cover the breadth of the Southern Jewish experience and they cover a range of topics from the Jewish settlers who arrived in Savannah, Georgia in 1733 to the modern-day push by members of the Southern Baptist Convention to convert Jews to Christianity.

The essays in this anthology include: You can see, simply by scanning the list of essays, the broad scope of this anthology, both in terms of place of time. The essays not only look at the Southern Jewish experience on a community level, but they also delve into the personal experiences of well-known figures such as Rabbi Henry Cohen of Galveston, to the unsung women who organized Jewish communal life in more than one hundred different towns scattered throughout the Appalachian coalfields. The essays are organized into five thematic sections covering Jews and Judaism, Small-Town Life, Business and Governance, Interaction, and Identity. Each section, as well as the book itself, begins with a compelling introduction by Mark K. Bauman that places the book, and its essays, in context with Southern History in general, as well as to the Jewish-American experience as a whole.

Dixie Diaspora is a fascinating book to read, both as a foray into an often overlooked aspect of Jewish history and culture, as well as for the unique perspective that it provides into Southern History. As such, this book is essential reading for anyone with a personal or academic interest in Southern Jewish history and culture. In addition, each essay contains endnotes that will prove useful to anyone seeking to explore this subject in greater detail. Dixie Diaspora is also ideally suited for use as a class text in university level classes on the American South and Southern Jewish history, as well as a supplemental text in Jewish studies or general survey courses in American Jewish history. Best of all, these essays are also eminently readable, making them accessible to general readers with an interest in this vibrant and still developing chapter in Jewish history.

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