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The Last Jews of Natchez
May 21, 2015
There has been a Jewish community in Natchez, Mississippi for 175 years—and Robin Amer’s family has been part of it for 160 of them. But now the number of Jews in Natchez has dwindled to only a handful. In this episode, Robin returns to learn what culinary culture might disappear when they’re gone.
People are often surprised when Robin Amer tells them her family is from the South. That’s because her family is Jewish, and a lot of people don’t realize there are Jews in the South, especially in tiny towns like Natchez, Mississippi. But Robin’s family has lived there for 160 years, and their traditions—and foodways—are a unique hybrid of their European Jewish heritage and their Southern home.
The Jewish community in Natchez has been dwindling for years, though. Now, it’s down to only a handful of people, including Robin’s 96-year-old grandmother and 98-year-old grandfather. In this episode of Gravy, Robin returns to Natchez to learn what might be lost when they’re gone.
You can learn about the Natchez City Cemetery here.
Go here to find Marcie Cohen Ferris’ book “Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South.”
You can see pictures here of Stanton Hall, where the Jewish Homecoming– the site of the “Ham Biscuit Incident”– was held in 1994.
You can find the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute for Southern Jewish Life, which helped put on the Homecoming, and received the Natchez temple as a donation in 1992, here.