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Homelands: Southern Jewish Identity in Durham-Chapel Hill and North Carolina
by Leonard Rogoff
University of Alabama Press, 2001
Cloth: 978-0-8173-1055-4 | Paper: 978-0-8173-5050-5 | eISBN: 978-0-8173-1356-2
Library of Congress Classification F264.D9R66 2001
Dewey Decimal Classification 975.6/563004924

Homelands blends oral history, documentary studies, and quantitative research to present a colorful local history with much to say about multicultural identity in the South. Homelands is a case study of a unique ethnic group in North America--small-town southern Jews. Both Jews and southerners, Leonard Rogoff points out, have long struggled with questions of identity and whether to retain their differences or try to assimilate into the nationalculture. Rogoff shows how, as immigrant Jews became small-town southerners,they constantly renegotiated their identities and reinvented their histories.

The Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish community was formed during the 1880s and 1890s, when the South was recovering from the Reconstruction era and Jews were experiencing ever-growing immigration as well as challenging the religious traditionalism of the previous 4,000 years. Durham and Chapel Hill Jews, recent arrivals from the traditional societies of eastern Europe, assimilated and secularized as they lessened their differences with other Americans. Some Jews assimilated through intermarriage and conversion, but the trajectory of the community as a whole was toward retaining their religious and ethnic differences while attempting to integrate with their neighbors.

The Durham-Chapel Hill area is uniquely suited to the study of the southern Jewish experience, Rogoff maintains, because the region is exemplary of two major trends: the national population movement southward and the rise of Jews into the professions. The Jewish peddler and storekeeper of the 1880s and the doctor and professor of the 1990s, Rogoff says, are representative figures of both Jewish upward mobility and southern progress.


Leonard William Rogoff is Research Historian at the Rosenzweig Museum and Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina and Editor of the Rambler, the newsletter of the Southern Jewish Historical Society.



  • Contents 
    • List of Tables
    • Acknowledgments
    • 1. 
    • Introduction: More or Less Southern
    • 2. 
    • The North Carolina Background, 1585 to 1870s
    • 3. 
    • A German Jewish Colony, 1870s to 1880s
    • 4. 
    • Russian Tobacco Workers: A Proletarian Interlude, 1880s
    • 5. 
    • East European Immigration: From Old World to New South, 1886 to 1900
    • 6. 
    • Creating an American Jewish Community, 1900 to 1917
    • 7. 
    • Becoming Southern Jews, 1917 to 1929
    • 8. 
    • Crisis and Community, 1930 to 1941
    • 9. 
    • War, Holocaust, and Zion, 1940s to 1950s
    • 10. 
    • Breaking the Boundaries, 1950s to 1960s
    • 11. 
    • Sunbelt Jews, 1960s to 1990s
    • 12. 
    • Conclusion: Exiles at Home
    • Notes
    • Glossary
    • Bibliography
    • Index

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