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04/09/2005
Deep South Jews on film by: Leslie Bunder
FILED UNDER DAILY JEWS >> Jewtastic
Shalom Y'all
Shalom Y'All

A couple of years ago, I came across two people, Brian Bain and Susan Levitas who were making a documentary telling the story of the Jews of the Deep South in the United States - Shalom Y'All.

Bain, himself is a 30-something born and bred native New Orleans Jew whose grandfather used to travel around the South selling hats and ties.

Now, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it's likely that their documentary is the last testimony of Jewish life in New Orleans, Mississippi and other affected areas.

Several years in the planning and making, Shalom Y'All is a brilliant documentary that captures the essence and the spirit of Jews in the South, their humour, their outlook on life and their Jewish identity.

From the assimilated who are cultural Jews, through to the orthodox and keeping religious, Shalom Y'All embraces all section of the community.

You see first hand the diversity of the Jews. Reuben Greenberg, an African American-Jewish man who rose to become Police Chief of Charleston, store owner Jay Lehmann of Natchez Mississippi and Jewish boxing champ Leo Center.

The people range from the very straight-laced through to the eccentric.  One of the more eccentric was Zelda Millstein, who used to be a tour guide at a plantation in Mississippi. Sadly, Zelda passed away in 2003.

The film also shows the Krewe du Jieux, who take part in the Mardi Gras and feature people dressed in custome. Who would have thought Mardi Gras had a Jewish connection?   And of course New Orleans is also about great music and one of the bands featured is the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars.

Looking at the tragedy that has befallen the South, Shalom Y'All serves as a reminder of what was and indeed what can still be when the rebuilding starts.

Find out more about Shalom Y'All at www.shalomyall.com

Krewe du Jieux can be found at: www.krewedujieux.com

 
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