The Schmooze

Giving History a Helping Hand

Crossposted From Under the Fig Tree

This past Sunday afternoon, the students in my Jewish Geography class got more than they bargained for when they attended a matinee performance of “Parade,” a two act musical at the historic Ford’s Theatre that centered on the sobering events that culminated in the lynching of Leo Frank of Atlanta in the 1910s.

As luck would have it, we were just about to begin our inquiry into the history of Atlanta’s Jewish community, one in which the Leo Frank case figures prominently, when, thanks to the generosity of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington and its executive director, Laura Cohen Apelbaum, we were able to deepen our engagement with this watershed moment in the American Jewish experience by attending a performance of the celebrated play.

I could be wrong, of course, but I suspect my students hadn’t given too much advance thought to what they would see on the stage — apart, that is, from casually wondering how a musical could possibly do justice to the complexities of a tragic, real life event.

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Giving History a Helping Hand

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