(JNS) Officials with the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (MSJE) announced that the new museum will open in fall 2020 in New Orleans. Exhibits will explore the many ways Jews in the American South influenced and were influenced by the distinct cultural heritage of their communities, covering 13 states and more than 300 years of history, including colonial, Civil War, World War II and the civil rights movement. “This will be the only museum in the country to focus exclusively on the history and culture of Jews across the South,” said museum chairman Jay Tanenbaum. Multimedia exhibits will illustrate how Jewish immigrants and succeeding generations adapted to life in the South, forming bonds of deep friendship and community with their non-Jewish neighbors. The museum will also address issues of race and antisemitism, and the ways Southern Jews navigated such challenges at different times.
“Southern Jews have more often been a part of their communities, rather than apart from them,” says executive director of the museum Kenneth Hoffman. “This contrasts with America’s urban immigration centers where Jews formed more insular enclaves. The contributions they made and the acceptance they received attest to something unique in the Southern heart.”
New Orleans was chosen as the home of the museum based on the city’s long Jewish history and the historical connection to the broader southern region. MSJE will be located in the city’s popular “Museum District.” The museum’s collection of 7,000-plus artifacts was transferred from the original Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience established in 1986 at Jacobs Camp, in Utica, Miss., and shuttered in 2012.
Museum officials are encouraging members of the public to donate relevant artifacts to the collection.