Upcoming Conference

“Jews, Race, and Public Memory”
44th Annual Conference of the Southern Jewish Historical Society
Charlottesville, Virginia
October 25-27, 2019

Charlottesville is well known as the home of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia, author of the Declaration of Independence, sponsor of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and of course, third president of the United States. At his plantation, Monticello, more than 400 enslaved people lived in bondage. Yet, Jefferson was revered as the defender of religious and political liberty—and his home was preserved for almost 100 years by a Jewish family, the Levys, who had close ties to the South.

These intersections of race, religion, and public space will provide a compelling setting to explore the place of Jews in the South. That ambiguous place—both insider and outsider, sometimes white, sometimes “other”—was fundamental to their experiences and opportunities. When the Unite the Right rally participants came to Charlottesville in August 2017, weaving antisemitism into their larger campaign of hatred and violence, the connections between white supremacy, racism, and antisemitism rose to the surface and continue to effect national discourse.


SJHS 2019: Conference Schedule

FRIDAY 10/25:

8-11:30am: Private tours of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, with discussion to follow

12-1:30pm: Lunch at Hillel Foundation

  • Official welcome to the conference; Phyllis Leffler, SJHS President and Local Arrangements Chair & Marni Davis, Program Committee Chair
  • Speaker: Marc Leepson, author of The Levy Family and Monticello: A Little Known Sotry of Jewish-American History

2-4:30pm: Downtown Charlottesville, where attendees can:

  • Attend an exhibit on Jewish Charlottesville at the Museum of History and Culture
  • Go on a walking tour of Jewish Charlottesville history with Phyllis Leffler

4:30-5:45pm: Return to hotels

6:15-7:15: Shabbat service at Congregation Beth Israel (in downtown Charlottesville)

7:15-7:45 pm: Keynote Speaker

  • Nicole Hemmer (Columbia University; Obama Presidency Oral History Project) - The Alt-Right in Charlottesville: How an Online Movement Became a Real-World Threat

8:00-9:00: Dinner at Beth Israel

8:45-9:00: Respondent: John Edwin Mason (University of Virginia)

9:00-9:30: Questions and Discussion

Back at hotel by 9:30-10pm

SATURDAY 10/26: at UVA. (Nau Hall 101, South Lawn, UVA)

9:00-10:30: Pageants and Monuments: Southern Jews and Public Memorialization

  • Samantha Baskind (Cleveland State University) Moses Jacob Ezekiel: Virginia’s Jewish, Confederate Sculptor of Charlottesville’s Thomas Jefferson Statue
  • David Weinfeld (Virginia Commonwealth University) The American Jewish Tricentennial and the Civil War Centennial in Richmond: Commemoration in a Southern Jewish Community
  • Melissa Young (University of Alabama) Constructing History: Birmingham, Jews, and Public Memory, 1871-1920

10:45-12:15: concurrent sessions 

Roundtable: History and Memory: Commemorating and Memorializing Leo Frank

  • Anna Tucker (Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience)
  • Catherine Lewis (Kennesaw State University)
  • Jeremy Katz (Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History)

Towards a Pedagogy of Southern Jewish History: Reflections on ‘Privilege and Prejudice: Jewish History in the American South

  • Shari Rabin (Oberlin College)
  • Dale Rosengarten (College of Charleston)
  • Michael Cohen (Tulane University)

12:30-1:30: Lunch at Nau Hall

1:30-3:00: Jews, Race, and Southern Politics

  • Matthew Brittingham (Emory University) ‘For Our City of Baltimore and the South’: The Baltimore Amerikaner in Context
  • Adam Jortner (Auburn University) Sheftall’s Shadow: Jeffersonians, Liberty, and Slavery in Savannah
  • Jacob Morrow-Spitzer (Yale University) Jewish Mayors in Reconstruction-Era Louisiana and Mississippi

3:15-4:45 - concurrent sessions

Forging Jewish Identity in a Southern Landscape

  • Laura Cochrane (Middle Tennessee State University) Combating Anti-Semitism and Defining Jewishness through Art and Architecture in 1920s Southeast Texas
  • Catherine Eskin (Florida Southern College) Exclusion and Inclusion: Jews Occupying Public Space in Mid-20th Century Lakeland, Florida
  • Amy Milligan (Old Dominion University) The ‘Jewish Zealots of Tobacco Land’: The Circuit-Riding Rabbi Project of North Carolina, 1950-1980

In Search of an Authentic Past: Jews, the South, and Heritage Tourism

  • Ruth Ellen Gruber (Independent Scholar) From Dark Tourism to Tourist Attractions: Thoughts on Parallels between Jewish Heritage Tourism in Europe and African-American Heritage Tourism in the U.S.
  • Neva J. Specht (Appalachian State University) and Carrie Streeter (University of California, San Diego) A Mansion on the Parkway: Mrs. Moses H. Cone and the Politics of Public History

5:15-6:15: Cultural Program: Anthony Russell

  • Musical performance + Q&A w/Josh Parshall (Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life)

Dinner on one’s own

SUNDAY 10/27: at UVA. (Nau Hall 101, South Lawn, UVA)

8:30-9:30: annual membership meeting

9:30-9:45: Southern Jewish Historical Society Awards

10:00-12:00: Closing Plenary

  • Amy Spitalnick, Integrity First for America, Pursuing Justice: Using Law to Confront Antisemitism
  • Dalia Lithwick and Risa Goluboff in conversation, Nazi Marchers and the U.S. Constitution:  Did the Framers Imagine Charlottesville?