Skip To Content

Of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ Lehman Brothers and 5 Other Things About (Jewish) Alabama

1) Birmingham has contained Alabama’s largest Jewish community for nearly a century. About 5,300 Jews live there today.

2) Alabama’s first congregation was founded in 1844 in Mobile.

3) Abraham Mordecai was the first Jew to live in Alabama. In 1785 he set up a small trading post in an area which later became Montgomery.

4) Philanthropists Samuel and Emma Ullman served on Temple Emanu-El’s board of trustees in Birmingham. Samuel convinced the city to build its first public high school, while his wife helped start the Hospital of United Charities, which was the first hospital in the region to treat indigent and black patients.

5) The Lehman Brothers’ cotton brokerage that gradually evolved into a global investment bank, started in Montgomery.

6) Lori Siegelman, wife of non-Jewish former governor Don Siegelman, was the state’s first Jewish first lady.

7) “There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn’t think so is a mystery to me,” Miss Gates tells young Scout in Alabama’s most famous book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.