Melissa Klapper is the author of two important books in American Jewish women’s history, is now working on a study of American Jewish women who traveled abroad between the Civil War and World War II, which will take serious the idea that travel could both destabilize and reaffirm American Jewish women’s religious, cultural, ethnic, national, and gender identities in ways that bear further exploration. Her trip to Charleston will allow her to include travel writings of women from places beyond the “usual suspects” of northern urban centers.
A historian of gender in the Civil War-era South, Dr. Brill is working on a manuscript entitled Scarlett Plays Politics: Gender and Nationalism on the Confederate Home Front, which examines how southern women fashioned a language of dissent to the Confederate state within their diaries and letters to challenge the failing domestic policies of the Confederacy and contest its ideological claims to republicanism. At Addlestone Library, she will conduct research for a book chapter on Charlestonian Eugenia Phillips, a Jewish woman who was prosecuted under General Benjamin Butler’s General Order 28. This research will provide the basis for a broader examination of the role of Judaism in the social construction of Confederate nationalism and wartime gender identity. She earned her PhD in history from Cambridge University in 2013.
Lucas Wilson, recipient of a Charleston Research Fellow in May 2017 and a Southern Jewish Historical Society Research Award, will return to Charleston to conduct oral histories of second- and third-general Holocaust survivors as part of his dissertation, “The Structures of Postmemory: Portraits of the Post-Holocaust Home in Second-Generation Holocaust Archive.”
Dr. Joshua Furman, Founding Director, Houston Jewish History Archive at Rice University, June 2018
Dr. Furman is an American Jewish historian who co-founded the Houston Jewish History archives at Rice University in the Fall of 2017. In Charleston he will spend time in the Jewish Heritage Collection at Addlestone Library with Dale Rosengarten, exploring archival methods and strategies appropriate to a local southern Jewish history archive located within a university library, including issues of archival acquisition and digitization.
Brian Neumann is working on a dissertation, entitled “Loyalty and Liberty: Nullification and the Struggle for Union in South Carolina, 1828-1835,” which examines the social, political, and ideological dynamics of Unionism during the crisis. The crisis coincided with the Second Great Awakening, and it became a struggle over faith and freedom, testing South Carolinians’ belief in the Union’s providential purpose. In Charleston, Neumann will work on the spiritual dimensions of the Nullification Crisis, including the reactions of South Carolina’s Jewish community.
A journalist and author of Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal, Sue will be working on a book of narrative non-fiction with the working title of Postcards From Dixie: A Yankee’s Journey. It is a traveling-through-history personal journey of discovery and understanding that explores reasons for the Civil War, comparisons between the civil rights movement and civil rights issues today (e.g., voting rights), Southern culture and history that many Yankees don’t know, and, as the backbone of the whole book, the history of the “lost” Jewish communities of the South and the contributions and distinctiveness of Southern Jews. In Charleston, Sue will visit important Jewish historical sites and learn about the community’s history from the Jewish Heritage Collection and from encounters with locals.
Lucas Wilson’s research centers on North American ‘post-Holocaust homes,’ that is, the childhood and adulthood homes of second generation Holocaust witnesses in the United States and Canada. His work examines the post-Holocaust home as a space of (post)memorial transmission and contagion, a space wherein children of Holocaust survivors have come to ‘inhabit’ their parents’ pasts. As a Charleston Research Fellow, he will explore local oral histories in order to expand his research on and offer a more complete portrait of North American post-Holocaust homes.
Avigail Oren, PhD Candidate, Carnegie Mellon University, November 2016
Avigail Oren’s dissertation examines how American Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in the postwar decades debated whether they should solely enroll Jewish members or whether they should serve all of the ethnic and religious groups in their increasingly diverse neighborhoods. She argues that local JCCs’ priorities and programming were reshaped in the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s as Center workers attempted to balance their professional authority with their sectarian commitment, and to reconcile their liberalism with Jewish particularism and preservation. Using materials at the Jewish Heritage Collection, Avigail will develop an additional case study for her dissertation that demonstrates how southern Jews perceived changes like the racial integration of the JCC. Many JCCs were located in the South, and as such, her project will immensely benefit from close consideration of the Charleston JCC.
Sandra Fox, PhD Candidate, New York University, March 2016
Sandra Fox’s dissertation examines how postwar American Jewish educators and leaders combined forms of Jewish nationalism, mainly Zionism and Yiddishism, with opportunities for youth to “perform” authentic Jewishness at Jewish summer camps and youth movements throughout the United States. Utilizing dramatics, language learning, song, and memorialization, camp and youth movement leaders sought to strengthen American Jewish youths’ identifications with Jewishness through simulating Jews from other times or places. Her work will consider this trend within the postwar historical context, a period marked by growing Jewish acceptance into the mainstream, increasing affluence, and suburbanization on the one hand, and the post-Holocaust moment on the other. Since Jewish camps and youth movements were truly national phenomena, acquiring a diverse geographical perspective is crucial, and as the southern camps and youth movements are particularly left out of the Center for Jewish History’s collections (unlike camps of the midwest, for example), a trip to Charleston was a great help in achieving this broader geographical point of view.
Professor Michael Meyer, Hebrew Union College, August 2015
In the early years of the American Reform movement neither Zionism nor Hebraism was favored, except by very few. Among these few were two brothers, Jacob and Max Raisin. Born in Russian Poland and growing up in New York, they were fluent not only in Yiddish and English, but also in Haskalah Hebrew.
Remarkably, even as teenagers, they were able to publish in Hebrew periodicals like Ha-Ivri, and Max even managed to write for Ahad Ha-Am’s Ha-Shiloah. Their reference group in New York was a small circle of Hebraically and Zionistically oriented young men. And yet both Jacob and Max decided to study for the Reform rabbinate at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, had high praise for its founder, Isaac Mayer Wise, and became successful Reform Rabbis, Jacob in Charleston and Max in Paterson, New Jersey.
Each published extensively in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. Each was a defender of Reform Judaism within the milieu of the modern Hebrew reading public. The fact that the College of Charleston holds the papers of Jacob Raisin, including some correspondence between the two brothers, made a visit to the collection essential for this project.