Southern Jews and the Lost Cause
November 7 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Sylvia and Irving Margolis Lecture on the Jewish Experience in the American South with David Weinfeld, Rowan University.
In-person event. Additional information, including venue, will be posted late summer.
Southern Jews and the Lost Cause: Confederate Memory and Jewish Identity
It is well-known that some Jews in the American South owned enslaved people of African descent and that at least two thousand Jewish men fought to preserve the oppressive institution by serving in the Confederate army. Less well-known is how Southern Jews interacted with the idea known as “The Lost Cause,” an ideology that emerged almost immediately after the Civil War. The Lost Cause depicted slavery as benign and even beneficial to the enslaved while simultaneously insisting that the war was about states rights instead of slavery. It elevated the Confederacy to a noble experiment and revered Confederate generals like Robert E. Lee as saint-like heroes. In this talk, David Weinfeld shows how Southern Jews participated in Lost Cause commemoration to better integrate into the white majority, an effort complicated by the Christian imagery that pervaded Lost Cause ideology and persistent antisemitism in Southern society. At the same time, he will examine moments when Southern Jews resisted the Lost Cause narrative in sympathy with their African American neighbors living under Jim Crow.
David Weinfeld is an assistant professor in the department of Philosophy and World Religions at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. He earned his PhD in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and History at New York University. His first book, An American Friendship: Horace Kallen, Alain Locke, and the Development of Cultural Pluralism, was published this year by Cornell University Press. He has also published articles in the Journal of American History, the American Jewish Archives Journal, and the journal Southern Jewish History. His latest book project is on American Jews and the Lost Cause. David is originally from Montreal, Canada. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter.