Southern Jewish Voices oral history series will celebrate B’ham Jewish life

A picture of an old-fashioned tapletop microphone

A new LJCC oral history program called Southern Jewish Voices (SJV) will use a live-interview format to present stories about Jewish life in Birmingham. The program, made possible by an $8,200 grant from the Alabama Humanities Alliance, will present a series of interviews conducted in front of a live audience.

The first program will take place at The J on September 29, 6-7:30 p.m., with Esther Schuster. Additional upcoming SJV programs (all beginning at 6 p.m.) are scheduled for:

“Oral stories can help us understand through first-person experiences how and why communities develop as they do,” says Elizabeth Patton, program director at The J. “Southern Jewish Voices will share and celebrate stories of being Jewish in Birmingham with a wide audience.” All sessions will be recorded and archived for use by future generations.

The live interviews will take place in an intimate setting akin to the popular Netflix program “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” “We’ll want you to feel like you’re in our living room,” Elizabeth says. The SJV host and interviewer will be Margaret Norman, director of programming and engagement at Temple Beth El, where she’s played a key role in developing Beth El’s new Civil Rights Experience exhibit. 

Themes throughout the SJV series will include contrasting and comparing Birmingham with other Jewish communities, civil rights, Southern Jewish food experiences, and bigotry. “We hope for SJV to build bridges,” adds Elizabeth, “— bridges within our pluralistic Jewish community, with the broader non-Jewish community, and across generations. 

“And did I mention we’ll be serving wine and cheese?”