The first time I read anything about Jews in the South, I was not aware of why the topic was so important. The memoir, The Jew Store by Stella Suberman shows readers the struggle of Jews trying to survive in and navigate the American South in the early 20th century. For me, the most surprising aspect of the story was how much discrimination the Bronson family faced in a country where they moved to so they could freely practice their religion. We are always taught that there was immense discrimination against Jews in Nazi Germany and other European areas during the World War II era, but there is seldom discussion about discrimination in America. There were many examples of people in the South being disrespectful and unkind to Jews in the memoir, which made it very hard for me to believe that the story was taking place in the early 20th century. Similarly, racism towards Blacks was very evident in the story as well
Another distinguishing theme in the memoir was the difficulty of practicing Jewish religion and Jewish traditions in the South. In their small town, there was no synagogue, no Jewish school, and no other Jews to create a community to identify with. This struggle seemed counter-intuitive to the Jew's desire to immigrate to the United States so that they could freely practice their religion – but this clearly did not apply in areas of the South. While they wouldn’t be persecuted for openly practicing Judaism, it was very difficult to do so, as it would cause them be outcasts and unwanted in their community. This issue put the mother in the story, Reba, into a deep depression, as she felt that her children would not be raised Jewishly, and she did not feel like she was a part of the community.