Wandering Dixie: Dispatches from the Lost Jewish South by Sue Eisenfeld
Sue Eisenfeld is a Yankee by birth, a Virginian by choice, an urbanite who came to love the rural South, a Civil War buff, and a nonobservant Jewish woman. In Wandering Dixie, she travels to nine states, uncovering how the history of Jewish southerners converges with her personal story and the region’s complex, conflicted present. In the process, she discovers the unexpected ways that race, religion, and hidden histories intertwine.
From South Carolina to Arkansas, she explores the small towns where Jewish people once lived and thrived. She visits the site of her distant cousin and civil rights activist Andrew Goodman’s murder during 1964’s Freedom Summer. She also talks with the only Jews remaining in some of the “lost” places, from Selma to the Mississippi Delta to Natchitoches, and visits areas with no Jewish community left—except for an old temple or overgrown cemetery. Eisenfeld follows her curiosity about Jewish Confederates and casts an unflinching eye on early southern Jews’ participation in slavery. Her travels become a journey of revelation about our nation’s fraught history and a personal reckoning with the true nature of America.
Year first published: 2020