Sunday, Oct. 18, is the registration deadline for the 40th annual conference of the Southern Jewish Historical Society.
The theme of the conference, set for Nashville from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, is “Jews and the Urban South.” Presentations will include Nashville, Atlanta, Columbus, New Orleans, Miami, Gadsden, Ala., Dallas, Texas, and Jackson, Miss. Several speakers will address the civil rights movement or women’s activism.
Professor Ira Sheskin of the University of Miami’s Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Jewish Studies, who edits the American Jewish Year Book and writes its article on the number of Jews in the United States, will deliver the keynote address Saturday, Oct. 31, on Jewish demographic trends in the South since 1950.
Another highlight will be dinner and Friday night services at The Temple (Congregation Ohabai Sholom) on Oct. 30. The speaker will be Rabbi Gary Zola, a Hebrew Union College history professor and the executive director of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati. Rabbi Zola, who last year published “We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry,” will speak about Lincoln and Southern Jews.
The conference will begin with an optional tour the afternoon of Oct. 29 of a Julius Rosenwald school in Cairo and the Rosenwald Collection at Fisk University. That tour should be of particular interest to anyone who saw Aviva Kempner’s documentary “Rosenwald” when it came to Atlanta in September.
During lunch Oct. 30, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos will address his university’s outreach to Jewish students and the Jewish community. That afternoon the Forward’s Paul Berger will talk about the most notorious killing of a Jew in the South in the half-century between the end of the Civil War and the lynching of Leo Frank: the nonhanging lynching of shopkeeper Samuel Bierfield in Franklin, Tenn., in 1868 during Reconstruction.
Among Atlantans participating in the conference, Georgia Tech’s Ronald Bayor will chair a session on violence during the civil rights movement Oct. 31, just before a discussion on Atlanta Jewish women and social justice in the 1960s that will include Georgia Gwinnett College’s Ellen Rafshoon. The Breman Museum’s Jeremy Katz will be part of a discussion of synagogue archives Nov. 1. Former Atlanta Metropolitan College history professor Mark Bauman is the conference program chairman.
Activities will be based at the Homewood Suites and Vanderbilt University. Registration, open only to society members, is $125; student registration is $50. The optional tour Thursday, Oct. 29, is an additional $25. The fee goes up $25 for late registration after Oct. 18.
Annual membership to the society is $15 for students and $36 for general members.