Upcoming Conference: Home and Belonging in the Jewish South

Louisville Jewish women as Kentucky Belles, United Jewish Appeal conference, c. 1975. Courtesy of Filson Historical Society, Jewish Community of Louisville, Photograph Collection. Registration for the 2024 Southern Jewish Historical Society conference is now LIVE. Please follow this link for full details! Discounted early bird registration is available before September 15. A full schedule is available here.

The Southern Jewish Historical Society will hold its 48th annual conference on November 1-3, 2024, in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted by the Filson Historical Society with sponsorship from the Jewish Heritage Fund.

Situated on the Falls of the Ohio River, Louisville is a gateway to both the West and South, a historic connector of people, goods, and ideas. The metropolitan hub of the commonwealth, the “Falls City” is also a border territory and intersection point of different regional identitities, including the Ohio Valley, Midwest, and upper and deeper Souths. This will be the first time the SJHS has met in Kentucky. With the Filson Historical Society marking both its 140th anniversary and the culmination of its seven-year effort to build a robust collection documenting local Jewish experiences, this place and time present an exciting opportunity to explore “home and belonging” in the Jewish South in all their complexity. 

Jews are long settled in the South, sharing with other southerners a sense of home and belonging. Yet, Jews historically have been a mobile people. With departures and new migrations, southern Jewish communities have been constantly transformed and reconstituted. Even as Jews planted southern roots as citizens and neighbors, they still identified with their place of birth, national origins, and the global Jewish people. Commerce, religion, and family linked them to distant places—they were both provincials and cosmopolitans. The South that they have called home has also evolved and has many manifestations: rural and urban, agrarian and industrial, across a broad regional landscape

Popular representations of the South deploy the idea of home to emphasize regionally distinctive feelings of rootedness, tradition, and hospitality. Ongoing debates about the southern past reflect longstanding struggles over identity. Considering the two themes of rootedness and mobility opens a variety of inquiries about southern Jewish history, including but not limited to issues of gender and domesticity; institution and community building; language and culture; race and religion; ethnicity and nationality; business and economics; exclusion and acceptance; and identity and representation.

The deadline for panel and paper proposals is April 1, 2024. We are especially interested in roundtables and workshops in addition to traditional panels, and we encourage submissions from graduate students. Please send a proposal and CV, as well as any questions, to conference chair Dana Herman at [email protected].

Additional conference information will be available on this website and in our newsletter, The Rambler, as it becomes available.