Steve Rosenthal, mayor of the rural Mississippi town of Indianola, didn’t start out in politics, but with his experiences as a longtime merchant in the town of just over 10,000, he was well positioned to run for office and try to bridge a racially divided community.
Reform Judaism, America’s largest denominational stream, boasts some 900 congregations in America, including some with thousands of member families. So what possessed Rabbi David Ellenson, the renowned scholar and then-president of Reform Judaism’s Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, to travel to tiny Temple Beth El, in Lexington, Mississippi, — population 2,000 — for that 12-member congregation’s 2005 centennial celebration?
Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar wasn’t thinking of just the need to demolish walls between Jews and a surrounding community of non-Jewish Trump Southerners. Unlike the heavily Democratic Jewish communities of the North, where Republicans are as rare as spotted owls, the Democrat/Republican divide in the South cleaves Jewish communities as well.
Breathing a huge sigh of relief following some very close calls, Alabama’s Jewish community is mobilizing in response to a series of tornadoes that killed more than 250 people in the state and scores of others across the South.