When I decided to attend Emory for college, I never really thought about how the Atlanta Jewish community would differ from the one I grew up in. I knew that the Emory campus had a Jewish bubble within it, but I never thought that the Jewish community in the South had a reason to be so distinct.
After reading the first chapter in Jewish Roots in Southern Soil, the origins of Judaism in the South and the division between different Jewish groups as well as the struggle to practice their religion became more apparent to me as the background for the immerging Jewish south. We are often taught that practicing Judaism was once not allowed, but this is rarely discussed in the context of America, let alone the South specifically, at least in my Jewish day school education. Reading the story of Nunes did not necessarily surprise me because I've read or heard about religious discrimination many times, but rather sparked a connection. While this history dates back to the 18th century, I couldn't help but think about the community my parents grew up in. Both my mother and father were born and raised in the former Soviet Union, where practicing Judaism was certainly not allowed. Their stories were what always inspired me to be proud of my Jewish identity and very open about it.
My parents shared the same religious climate as that of 18th Century Savannah, which made me think about historical patterns and regional similarities. Surely by the time my parents were alive, the Jewish community in America was growing and thriving (which was the reason for their immigration), but the community they came from openly rejected Judaism at the same time. The title of the chapter, "One Religion, Different Worlds" and the details written in it immediately reminded me of this contrast my parents experienced.