Shalom Y'all
Images of Jewish Life in the American South

Foreword by Alfred Uhry, Photographs by Bill Aron, Text by Vicki Reikes Fox
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, November 2002

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Shalom Y'all:
Images of Jewish Life in the American South

Notes by Bill Aron

Jews have resided in the American South since the early 1700's. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jewish peddlers were instrumental in helping to settle the South by travelling from town to town to sell their wares and by eventually establishing stores and raising families. They participated in civic life, built synagogues to celebrate their Jewish tradition and established cemeteries to honor their dead. In short, they became southern Jews: southerners as defined by their location and lifestyle; Jews by virtue of their religion and their heritage.

For the past ten years I, together with Vicki Reikes Fox and Marcie Cohen Ferris, under the auspices of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in Jackson, Mississippi, traveled throughout the deep South to Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama photographing and collecting stories about the southern Jewish life.

Shalom Y'All tells the unique story of the Southern Jewish experience through three distinct voices: photographs, a narrative woven into descriptive captions of the photographs, and stories told by southern Jews about being Jewish in the South. It presents a multidimensional portrait of contemporary Jewish life in the deep south as it has evolved from the early 1700's.

Southern and Jewish are two words not often associated with each other. Shalom Y'All indelibly links them in presenting this first comprehensive look at the southern Jewish experience.