Why Selma?

The first question that people usually ask me when they hear where my Bar Mitzvah will be is "Why Selma?"

When my ancestors came to the United States, instead of staying in New York, like most immigrants did, both sides of my family came to Alabama. My Dad's family was in Decatur and my Mom's family settled in Selma. Coincidentally, both families owned a general store.

Many people don't realize that there were Jews in the South, because what we usually hear about is all the Jews in New York's Lower East Side. But in fact, there were many Jews living throughout the South. When Russian Jews started fleeing to the US, the Jews that were already established in New York were afraid that with the influx of Jews, there would be renewed anti-semitism. So they paid for many of the ships carrying Jewish immigrants to be diverted to ports in the South. As a result, many Jews stayed in the South and became part of the culture there.

To learn more about Jews in the South, you may be interested in the film Shalom Y'all.