HOMELANDS: Southern Jewish Identity in Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Leonard Rogoff, Author . Univ. of Alabama $39.95 (392p) ISBN 978-0-8173-1055-4

This delightful new book uncovers the history of the Jewish community in Durham, N.C. Rogoff opens with the German Jews who made Durham their home in the decades after the Civil War, describing their efforts to adapt to a new land and start businesses. Rogoff doesn't just treat the Jewish bourgeoisie; he also writes of the working-class Russian workers who came to do the dirty work (literally) of the booming tobacco town. But the book is not merely an encyclopedic chronicle. At its heart lies a question: what does it mean to be both Southern and Jewish? Rogoff discusses how Jews dealt with anti-Semitism—how they handled the backlash against the so-called Jew Deal (the New Deal), for example, and how they coped with exclusion from the local country club. He examines the hardships faced by the Jews who, after 1900, began to enroll in Trinity College (now Duke University) and UNC. And he describes the triumphs of E.J. "Mutt" Evans, Durham's first Jewish mayor, who will be familiar to readers from his son Eli Evans's masterful memoir, The Provincials , about growing up a Southern Jew. This is a thorough, highly readable book that combines scholarship and storytelling. In fields too frequently given to antiquarianism—local history and American Jewish history—Rogoff's book shines. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Paperback - 410 pages - 978-0-8173-5050-5
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