31 July 2009

Tennessee: Jewish history spotlighted

A free exhibit on Tennessee's Jewish history will run from August 10-September 16 at Chattanooga State Community Colege's Kolwyck Library.

"Bagels & Barbeque: The Jewish Experience in Tennessee" documents the history of Jewish immigration to the state, according to Chattanooga.com

The exhibit is a joint project of the Tennessee State Museum in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, Jewish Community Federation of Greater Chattanooga, Knoxville Jewish Alliance, and Memphis Jewish Federation, with the participation of other Jewish communities around the state. The exhibit’s statewide tour is supported in part by a grant from Humanities The exhibit will tour various communiities.

It opens with early Jewish settlers emigrating from Europe where most suffered religious persecution. In the 1770s, some of them traveled into East Tennessee and, by the 1820s, Jewish families were moving west into middle Tennessee. By 1870, there were thriving communities in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga; they were building synagogues and acquiring land for cemeteries.

It highlights historic contributions Jews made during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Stories of interest include the beginnings of one of America’s most respected newspaper empires, which began when 20 year-old Adolph Ochs, son of Julius and Bertha Ochs from Knoxville, bought The Chattanooga Times in 1878. In 1896, Adolph Ochs purchased The New York Times, which is still today a family-controlled enterprise.
It continues with major immigration wave from 1880 to 1923, as Jews fled pogroms, persecution and anti-Semitism. World War II's section accounts some of the more than 1,000 Tennessee Jews who served in the armed forces.

It also covers the secret Manhattan Project and the arrival of many Jewish scientists in 1943 to Oak Ridge. The families built a synagogue by hand, and Holocaust refugees and survivors also were welcomed to the state.

The state's Jewish ppulation declined to less than 17,000 in 1960 as young people left. During the Civil Rights Era, the Jewish communities lived through intoleranve and other challenges such as the bombing of the Nashville Jewish Community Center in 1958, and the 1977 bombing of a Chattanooga synagogue.

The exhibit looks at the contempporary community with an influx of Jewish residents from around the world to work in such areas as health, music, univesities and art.

You might have heard of the Six Million Paper Clips project. This project was developed in Whitwell in 1998 to help non-Jewish middle-school children understand the Holocaust. An award-winning film, "Paperclips," was the outcome. -sided Jewish experience in Tennessee.

Read the complete article at the link above, and more information, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:49 AM

    I was able to see this exhibit when it was in Nashville, TN. It is a very interesting exhibit and well worth the time of anyone visiting it.