Hattiesburg resident Samuel Lahasky has lived in cities with both large and small Jewish populations. In this episode, he observes how Jewish communities in the South tend to be more closely knit than those in the North. Lahasky shares his memories of growing up in Abbeville, Louisiana, and later moving to Atlanta at the age of six. He compares and contrasts those experiences as well as the differences between the Jewish communities at Tulane versus LSU and Hattiesburg.
Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, Mississippi provides summertime recreational and cultural activities for Jewish youth. Lahasky recalls attending the camp as a child and the lifelong friends he met there. Since 1946, Temple B’nai Israel has served the Hattiesburg Jewish community. Lahasky explains how being a member of a smaller synagogue requires a greater level of commitment.
There have always been negative stereotypes associated with Jewish people. Lahasky discusses how he uses humor to gently disabuse his non-Jewish friends and coworkers of these mistaken beliefs.
PHOTO: Temple B’nai Israel, Hattiesburg – WDAM.com
Jewish immigrant, Jacob Kern, migrated from Germany to America in the late 1800s. His daughter, Lourachael Kern Ginsberg recounts how her father paid for twelve of his family members to join them in Bastrop, Louisiana, in 1938. Growing up Jewish in Bastrop, Ginsberg remembers their family was accepted as part of the community. She remembers raising chickens and ducks for food and driving to Monroe to go to Temple.
Ginsberg was attending Tulane University, when she met her future husband Herbie Ginsberg. She recalls knowing immediately that he was ‘the one’, and her mother’s reaction to the news. After the couple married, they moved to his home in Hattiesburg. She describes stopping off at the bootleggers to pick up a bottle for his law partner and future Governor, Paul B. Johnson, Jr.
To celebrate Rosh Hashanah, this week’s MSMO features Carolyn Katz discussing her Jewish grandmothers. She begins by sharing her memories of how the small Jewish community in Kosciusko would always gather to celebrate traditional holidays like Rosh Hashanah.
Katz then recalls her great grandmother, Helene Mayer, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, who ran a boarding house in New Orleans to support her children after the untimely death of her husband. Katz remembers her as a matriarch who was loved by many.
During the summers growing up, Katz would often travel by train from Durrant to New Orleans to visit her grandmother. She remembers Grandmother Carrie as fun-loving and untraditional except when it came to her Jewish faith.
Katz’s mother, Edna, quit school at the age of 16 to open her own stenography business in New Orleans. She describes how Edna adjusted to small town life in Kosciusko.