Shalom Y’all: A Snapshot of Southern Jewish Life
Until-April 24, 2022
Over thirty years ago, the original Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in Utica, Mississippi, launched an ambitious initiative with project director Vicki Reikes Fox and photographer Bill Aron to capture images of rural and urban Southern Jewish communities. One trip turned into a fourteen-year-project, resulting in a unique time capsule of Southern Jewish life in the 1980s and 1990s.
For the inaugural exhibition in the Special Exhibition Gallery at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans, Bill Aron and Vicki Reikes Fox returned to this rare collection of photographs and worked with MSJE curator Anna Tucker to create a retrospective exhibition of over forty selections with themes ranging from “Sacred Connections” and “Earning a Living” to “Changing Communities” and “A Sense of Place.”
The retrospective exhibition of these photographs at the Museum’s new home in New Orleans provides a unique opportunity for reflection. Since that first trip in 1988, synagogues and businesses alike have closed and opened; sons and daughters have moved from small towns to big cities; and many of the faces and names captured in the photographs now live on as a blessing in our memories. Yet amid these changes, these images present us with a sense of continuity, perhaps even surprising us with a feeling of familiarity. This exhibition provides one interpretation of an unfolding and ever-changing narrative, preserved in photographs instead of words, and in snapshots of a past time that compel us to examine the present.
Image: Bill Aron