Southern Jewish Historical conference emphasizes civil rights events

With Birmingham’s commemorations of the 50th anniversary of major civil rights era events all year, the Southern Jewish Historical Society is holding its annual conference in Birmingham, Nov. 1 to 3.

Noted scholar and civil rights activist Julian Bond will be the conference’s keynote speaker, giving his address at Shabbat evening services at Temple Emanu-El. Earlier that afternoon, he will also lead a tour of civil rights sites in the area and take part in a roundtable discussion at 16th Street Baptist Church. Dan Puckett will lead the discussion of Birmingham’s Jewish community during the civil rights era.

As a student at Morehouse College, Bond co-founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. He later served in the Georgia legislature for 20 years and was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Currently, Bond teaches at American University in Washington and the University of Virginia.

To honor Rabbi Allen Krause, a noted scholar and board member of the SJHS who passed away last year, Mark Bauman, the editor of Southern Jewish History, will present “Listening to the Quiet Voices,” about Krause’s interviews with Southern rabbis during the Civil Rights Movement.

The conference will begin with a tour of Jewish Birmingham, led by community leaders.

On Nov. 2, there will be a panel about Alabama’s Jewish communities, with Robert Adler speaking about the Muscle Shoals community, Susan Thomas discussing the legacy of Leon Schwarz in turn-of-the-century Mobile, and Kaye Nail discussing Birmingham Jewish women and social reform from 1880 to 1980.

Additional panels include Classical Reform Judaism in the South, and Jews in civil rights, particularly in Dade County, Fla., and Dallas. Dina Weinstein will also present the story of Melvin Meyer’s experiences as a student journalist at the University of Alabama in that era.

There will be a reception at the Birmingham Public Library and an optional tour of the Samuel Ullman Museum.

On Nov. 3, there will be a panel on “The Charleston Diaspora,” including “Cincinnati Meets Charleston: The Moses and Jonas Families in Alabama.”

A Meet-The-Authors session will conclude the conference, with Barbara Bonfield and “Knesseth Israel: Over 123 Years of Orthodoxy,” Dan Puckett’s new book “In The Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the Second World War and the Holocaust,” and Nicholas Kotz’s “The Harness Maker’s Dream: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas.”

The conference will be at the Doubletree Hotel near Five Points South. Registration for the entire weekend is $125, or one may register for individual events. Registration is due by Oct. 16, and more information can be found here.

Honoring Catherine Kahn

At the conference, Catherine Kahn will receive the Saul Viener Outstanding Career Service Award. She is archivist emeritus at Touro Infirmary, the oldest private hospital in New Orleans. Before starting to set up Touro’s archives in 1990, she was registrar and curator at the Historic New Orleans Collection.

She is co-author of “The Jewish Community of New Orleans” with Irwin Lachoff, and “Legacy,” the history of New Orleans Community Chest and the Greater New Orleans Foundation. A past president of Greater New Orleans Archivists, she was project chair of “Jews of New Orleans: An Archival Guide.”

Kahn is a past recipient of the Helen Mervis Jewish Community Professional Award from the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana.