Southern Jewish Voices expands scope, adds lunch

The LJCC is excited to announce that the second season of Southern Jewish Voices will launch on October 25 at noon, when Margaret Norman will interview longtime volunteer and philanthropist Ronne Hess at The J in front of a live audience. The season debut follows a successful inaugural 2022-23 season that featured oral-history interviews with seven Birmingham locals.

Two women (one taller in a white blouse and the other, at right, wearing a dark-patterned blouse) pose in front of a tree and some bushes
SJV’s success is due to the ongoing collaboration between Elizabeth Patton (at left), director of programming at the LJCC, and Margaret Norman, director of programming and engagement at Temple Beth El.

The new season’s revised format will include attendees enjoying a light lunch compliments of The J. Tickets for the public program are free. As in the first season, all video interviews will be archived online.

Season two will also welcome guests from outside Birmingham, starting with an interview of Phillip Ensler, the only Jewish member of the Alabama legislature, on November 29.

Getting personal

Last year’s program guided attendees through the breadth and richness of Jewish experiences in the Birmingham Jewish community. “It’s not easy to get so personal in front of a crowd, and our seven interviewees were pretty brave about the whole thing and told some great stories,” Margaret says. “We discussed everything from growing up Jewish in Alabama to acclimating to the Jewish South as newcomers, and from finding Judaism later in life to the evolution of Jewish identities across a lifetime. 

“We talked about Jewish food and community, about Israel and leadership, and the future of this Jewish community that we’re all so invested in.”

When asked to be featured, participants weren’t always sure about what they had to contribute. “I think this program — so beautifully imagined by The J — does the important work of highlighting how rich all of our stories are,” Margaret explains, “and what can be gained by providing a venue like this to share them.”

LJCC Program Director Elizabeth Patton says each guest shared something that resonated with her on a professional or personal basis. Her favorite moments during the interviews were when audience members were able to chime in and add information — “like when David Sher was speaking about his father’s business and the audience called out the names of other bygone Jewish businesses in downtown Birmingham.” 

Add our SJV October 25 lunch date to your calendar now, and stay tuned for more information as we develop season 2…

A collage of seven images shows the same "living room" interview set-up with the same interviewer, Margaret Norman, seated to the left of seven different interviewees from the first season of the Southern Jewish Voices program
The first season of Southern Jewish Voices included interviews with (clockwise from top left) Jesse Unkenholz, Esther Schuster, David Sher, Ronald Levitt, Madeline Oliff, Barbara Aland, and Tammi Caldwell-Horn and Jonathan Horn. Link to their videos from here…