The historic reputation of the South for the hierarchical privilege granted to large landowners in an
agrarian economy would not seem to be very compatible with the tendency of Diaspora Jewry to
engage in commerce. Moreover, the regional commitment to racial inequality would seem to offer only
limited opportunity to a classic minority all too familiar with prejudice and discrimination. And yet the
Southern Jewish experience has been far more benign and reassuring than such dichotomies might
suggest. How Jews have managed over the course of roughly two centuries to flourish in a region that
might seem to be inhospitable is a paradox that merits historical analysis.
Stephen Whitfield holds the Max Richter Chair in American Civilization at Brandeis University, where he has taught since 1972. He holds degrees from Tulane (BA), Yale (MA) and Brandeis (PhD), and is the author of nine books, including In Search of American Jewish Culture. Whitfield serves as book review editor of the annual journal, Southern Jewish History, and has twice served as a Fulbright visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium). He has also taught at the Sorbonne and at the University of Munich.
Sponsor: Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program