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Euphemia
02-04-2007, 07:12 PM
First off I am posting this on behalf of my mother. She and my father are having an um, debate. My father is not a reenactor, but my mother, my two youngest sisters and of course, myself are. We also happen to be Southern and Jewish. My mother has done a lot of research on Jewish people during this time period in the South and would like for us to do an impression that incorporates our religion. My father thinks if we do anything openly "Jewish" that it could be potentially dangerous. He envisions some redneck bigot flipping a farby filter cigarette into our tent. My mother on the other hand thinks most reenactors have better then average educations and tend to be open minded. She has noted there are Christian services at most events and there don't seem to be any problems.

I am asking for opinions and thoughts anyone would like to share. If it makes any difference we tend to mainly attend events in the "west". Is my father right in thinking we should remain "hidden period Jews"? Or is my mother right in thinking that most reenactors are more enlightened and would appreciate an impression of a minority that is under represented, at least in our area?

Thanks.

John1862
02-04-2007, 08:03 PM
Interesting...but I am not so sure how one could convey the fact that they are Jewish without overly "flaunting" it. Also take into consideration U.S Grant's General Orders No.11, being:

GENERAL ORDERS No. 11.
HDQRS. 13TH A. C., DEPT. OF THE TENN.,
Holly Springs, December 17, 1862.

The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.
Post commanders will see that all of this class of people be furnished passes and required to leave, and any one returning after such notification will be arrested and held in confinement until an opportunity occurs of sending them out as prisoners, unless furnished with permit from headquarters.
No passes will be given these people to visit headquarters for the purpose of making personal application for trade permits.

By order of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant:
JNO. A. RAWLINS,
Assistant Adjutant-General.

Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol. 17, Part II, p. 424.


The orders were issued due to the fact that Grant led a campaign against a "black market" in Southern Cotton, and believed that Jews were behind it.

The order was revoked in January of '63, so depending on what time the event is that may effect your whereabouts during that [short] period. Again, I really don't see how one can portray someone of Jewish heritage subtly, but still manage to make it known. Seeing as Jews were not heartily embraced during the period (along with Irish Catholics), it will be tough.

Again, Grant seems to have been somewhat of an Anti-Semite... and this may have been felt by others during the period as well.

La Grange, Tenn.,
November 9, 1862
Major-General Hurlbut, Jackson, Tenn.:Refuse all permits to come south of Jackson for the present. The Israelites especially should be kept out.
U.S. Grant
Major-General

La Grange, November 10, 1862
General Webster, Jackson, Tenn.:Give orders to all the conductors on the road that no Jews are to be permitted to travel on the railroad southward from any point. They may go north and be encouraged in it; but they are such an intolerable nuisance that the department must be purged of them.
U.S. Grant
Major-General

None of the above is intended as racist statements, I just don't recall running into something that will help you in a positive light.

NoahBriggs
02-04-2007, 08:17 PM
Good you should post this. For a particular event I actually kicked around the idea of being a character who was Jewish. Most likely Reform Judiasm, and I thought I might try someone who was an "assimilationist" (ie, he did not hide his Judiac heritage, but by the same token did not actively announce it, either.) It's easy for me since my wife is a non-practicing Reform Jew, and I am a non-practicing Episcopalian.

Your best bet in my opinion is to examine Reform vs. Orthodox and when it happened. Then try reading up on the attitudes towards Judiasm in whatever area will be represented at the event you are attending. Also read up on whatever anti-Judiasm there might have been at that location. Then see if you can find out if the bigotry was common, or unusual. Most often the blatant bigotry and the sneers and whatnot were the stuff that got in the papers. If you get stuck, then shoot the breeze with your rabbi. he may have some ideas to help you along.

Another immediate reference to come to mind would be American Jewry and the Civil War by Bertram Korn. if you can stay awake through the numeric stats he shovels at you in the first chapter, then you should be able to read the rest of it.

Will there be clueless bigots at events? Yup. Were there clueless bigots back then? Sure were. How to deal with them? Knowledge, education, patience and a sense of humor seem to be the best stillettos for now.

Spinster
02-04-2007, 08:32 PM
The last time I've seen Jewish services held at an event was at the North-South Alliance's "Dusty Chickamauga"--which, if memory serves was about 1999.

I note your profile location in the "Deep South" and encourage you to spend some time researching various river towns, including Selma, Alabama, where there was a thriving synagogue prior to the war.

Yes, this impression is doable, though your father's safety concerns should be heard--not so much over the issue of religion, but simply of women and daughters traveling alone. You'll find a message from me in your private mail box on this board.

Sgt_Pepper
02-05-2007, 01:11 AM
None of the above is intended as racist statements

Judaism is not a race, it is a religion. And, of course, there is only one human race.

Pvt Schnapps
02-05-2007, 07:42 AM
http://www.jewish-history.com/civilwar/Default.htm

You can start here, but you'll find many sites with information on the subject. Racial and ethnic stereotypes abounded in our period, but so did a great deal of acceptance. Jews served in the military and civil service on both sides during the war.

An interesting counterpoint to Grant's infamous order is the actual service of Jewish soldiers in his army and the change in the Regulations that, by 1863, opened the chaplaincy from "regularly ordained ministers of some Christian denomination" to "a regularly ordained minister of some religious denomination."

Enjoy finding out more about your heritage and sharing with the rest of us.

hanktrent
02-05-2007, 08:49 AM
My mother on the other hand thinks most reenactors have better then average educations and tend to be open minded. She has noted there are Christian services at most events and there don't seem to be any problems.



My experience has been that reenactors are pretty much the same as the population at large, with pockets ranging from the most bigoted to the most open-minded, with the majority somewhere in between.

I'm not sure about the last sentence quoted above. Christianity, especially Protestant Christianity, seems to be the dominant religion in this country, so I'd expect more problems to occur from Christians bullying atheists and those of other faiths, rather than other religions or atheists attacking Christians for holding services.

One source of confusion and/or problems at events, though, can be a situation where you have people who are socializing as their modern selves, people who are socializing as part of their period portrayal, and people who are using reenacting as an excuse to display their real modern prejudices that they have to keep hidden otherwise. Depending on the event, one type of interaction may dominate, but I've seen them all happening at once too, among people who don't have a clue where the other is coming from.

So there are times you don't know whether to think, "Wow, that was a really good portrayal of a period bigot. I'd like to get to know that reenactor better and learn from them," or "Wow, what a bigot! I'm not reenacting around them anymore."

What I try to do is discuss anything ahead of time, and find out what specific period words or attitudes would really bother someone, and then work around it during the event. But sometimes I get into a situation on the fly, and just have to guess. Or reenactors with real prejudices, of course, just don't care if they offend.

The bottom line, though, is that I think reenacting will turn out to be like any other group endeavor. If by chance you don't get along well with one group or type of event, there are others where you will get along, so keep looking.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

Euphemia
02-05-2007, 09:21 AM
So there are times you don't know whether to think, "Wow, that was a really good portrayal of a period bigot. I'd like to get to know that reenactor better and learn from them," or "Wow, what a bigot! I'm not reenacting around them anymore."

I know I shouldn't laugh about this, but this had me rolling on the floor. I never thought about someone using their impression to hide there bigotry behind and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference! You make a very valid point here. I don't think I'd like to pre-plan with anybody to have a bigotry exchange.

While it is true that majority in this country at least profess to being Christian, I wouldn't just assume that Christian services at events are forever insulated from controversy. I've learned in my short life that no matter who you are somebody somewhere is going to hate you for it. Even the Girl Scouts have seen controversy about religion.

I never thought until reading your post about exactly what period bigotry terms would have been. I can't believe this but now it's on my list of things to research. I guess in history you have to take the good and the bad. Thanks for your input.

sbl
02-05-2007, 10:15 AM
"While it is true that majority in this country at least profess to being Christian, I wouldn't just assume that Christian services at events are forever insulated from controversy. I've learned in my short life that no matter who you are somebody somewhere is going to hate you for it. Even the Girl Scouts have seen controversy about religion."

At a Saylors Creek back in the 80s a Confederate church group invited we Northerners over to a Sunday church service.."Right under the cross."

"What time do you light that cross up?" was a reply somewhere in the back...probably a New Yorker.

Euphemia
02-05-2007, 10:33 AM
I appreciate everyone's input into this. I guess I should have been a little more speicfic about what my mother had in mind. We weren't planning to put signs on us saying "Jew!" and on the back saying "Ask us about Moses!" lol

Seriously, what she had in mind was try to recreate what Jewish people during the period might have done if they found themselves traveling on the sabbath. As most of you all probably know our sabbath starts sundown Friday and ends sundown Saturday. There are a lot of opportunities for observing the Sabbath at events. We have the lighting of Sabbath candles and associated prayers on Friday night, Saturday morning worship, Havadalah service that concludes it on Saturday night. Anyway you get the point. Jews during the time would have tried to seek out other Jews to celebrate the Sabbath with and to worship with. Certainly any non Jews would have been welcomed to observe. This what we were thinking about recreating.

Also, it does seem like it would be really easy to hide the fact that you are Jewish, but it doesn't always work that way. I was recently reading a period diary and the writer mentioned last names that were commonly Jewish. Sometimes all it takes is introducing yourself and hear the question "Are you Jewish?" Also when people ask you if you are going to church services and you say "No, I am Jewish" that's the big hint. I can imagine how you would have stood out even more during that time period when you and your family were the only ones in the community not going to church on Sunday. Many Jewish peddlers at this time suffered the guilt of going to Sunday services so they would more fit in with the people in the community they were trying to do business with.

Also, how obviously "Jewish" they were would depend on how observant they were. Even today the more observant Jews stand out in there surrounding communities. I have no doubt in the 1860s that it was hard for other people in the community to miss them.

Yes, we are well aware of general order #11--can I say we are not a big fan of General Grant. :) We will be keeping it in mind according to the time we are reenacting. If an event is during a time when we'd been kicked out by Grant, we will be doing the impression hidden Jews. As a side note, my mother tells my father that she has to spend all bills with Grant's picture on them as quickly as possible as a modern protest against that order. lol



Another immediate reference to come to mind would be American Jewry and the Civil War by Bertram Korn. if you can stay awake through the numeric stats he shovels at you in the first chapter, then you should be able to read the rest of it.

My mother realized she already had this book in her collection, but has never read it. Until your post she had forgotten all about it. Time to go dig through the tomes!

Thanks again for all the input, it has actually been most helpful.

hanktrent
02-05-2007, 10:50 AM
I know I shouldn't laugh about this, but this had me rolling on the floor. I never thought about someone using their impression to hide there bigotry behind and I wouldn't be able to tell the difference! You make a very valid point here. I don't think I'd like to pre-plan with anybody to have a bigotry exchange.

It really is funny sometimes when the usual norms of society get swept away. In what other hobby could you politely ask someone you've just met, "Would it bother you if I referred to you as an Injun, meaning no offense of course?" LOL!

But it's not so funny when someone starts telling period racist jokes and then switches to modern ones, or seems too enthusiastic about joining in on every period conversations bashing some minority, but couldn't care less about discussing farming or local politics.

I figure you've already been there, done that, by have you looked at Phoebe Yates Pember's writings? She occurs to me as an example of a southern Jewish woman who had a lot of interaction with the military and left detailed information, though it's been a while since I read it and I wasn't looking for Jewish-gentile interaction in particular, so I don't recall how much she mentions on that issue.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net

MDRebCAv
02-05-2007, 01:07 PM
I found this article that you might be interested in.


More Than 10,000 Jews
Fought For The Confederacy
By Thomas C. Mandes
Special to the Washington Times
6-18-2

The term "Johnny Reb" evokes an image of a white soldier, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant and from an agrarian background. Many Southern soldiers, however, did not fit this mold. A number of ethnic backgrounds were represented during the conflict.

For example, thousands of black Americans fought as Johnny Rebs. Dr. Lewis Steiner of the U.S. Sanitary Commission observed that while the Confederate army marched through Maryland during the 1862 Sharpsburg (Antietam) campaign, "over 3,000 negroes had arms, rifles, muskets, sabers, bowie knives, dirks, etc. And were manifestly an integral portion of the Southern Confederate Army."

There also were Hispanic Confederates. Col. Santos Benavides, a former Texas Ranger, city attorney and mayor of Laredo, Texas, commanded the 33rd Texas Cavalry, while Gen. Refugio Benavides protected what was known as the Confederacy of the Rio Grande. Recent Irish Catholic immigrants also chose to fight for the South, as did a few stalwart Chinese who served nobly in Louisiana.

The largest ethnic group to serve the Confederacy, however, was made up of first-, second- and third-generation Jewish lads. Old Jewish families, initially Sephardic and later Ashkenazic, had settled in the South generations before the war. Jews had lived in Charleston, S.C., since 1695. By 1800, the largest Jewish community in America lived in Charleston, where the oldest synagogue in America, K.K. Beth Elohim, was founded. By 1861, a third of all the Jews in America lived in Louisiana.

More than 10,000 Jews fought for the Confederacy. As Rabbi Korn of Charleston related, "Nowhere else in America - certainly not in the Antebellum North - had Jews been accorded such an opportunity to be complete equals as in the old South." Gen. Robert E. Lee allowed his Jewish soldiers to observe all holy days, while Gens. Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman issued anti-Jewish orders.

Many young Jews served in the ranks. There were a number of Jewish officers who were part and parcel of Southern society. They had spent their formative years in the South defensive about slavery and hostile about what they perceived as Northern aggression and condescension toward the South. Some of the more notable among the officer corps included Abraham Myers, a West Point graduate and a classmate of Lee's in the class of 1832. Myers served as quartermaster general and, before the war, fought the Indians in Florida. The city of Fort Myers was named after him.

Another Jewish officer, Maj. Adolph Proskauer of Mobile, Ala., was wounded several times. One of his subordinate officers wrote, "I can see him now as he nobly carried himself at Gettysburg, standing coolly and calmly with a cigar in his mouth at the head of the 12th Alabama amid a perfect rain of bullets, shot, and shell. He was the personification of intrepid gallantry and imperturbable courage."

In North Carolina, the six Cohen brothers fought in the 40th Infantry. The first Confederate Jew killed in the war was Albert Lurie Moses of Charlotte, N.C. All-Jewish companies reported to the fray from Macon and Savannah in Georgia. In Louisiana, three Jews reached the rank of colonel: S.M. Hymans, Edwin Kunsheedt and Ira Moses.

Many Southern Jews became world-renowned during this period. Moses Jacob Ezekiel from Richmond fought at New Market with his fellow cadets from the Virginia Military Institute and became a noted sculptor. His mother, Catherine Ezekiel, said she would not tolerate a son who declined to fight for the Confederacy.

He wrote in his memoirs, "We were not fighting for the perpetuation of slavery, but for the principle of States Rights and Free Trade, and in defense of our homes which were being ruthlessly invaded."

In tribute to Ezekiel, it was written, "The eye that saw is closed, the hand that executed is still, the soldier lad who fought so well was knighted and lauded in foreign land, but dying, his last request was that he might rest among his old comrades in Arlington Cemetery."

The most famous Southern Jew of the era was Judah Benjamin. He was the first Jewish U.S. senator and declined a seat on the Supreme Court and an offer to be ambassador to Spain. Educated in law at Yale, he was at one time or another during the war the Confederacy's attorney general, secretary of war and secretary of state. After the war, he settled in England, where he became a lawyer and wrote a seminal legal text.

Simon Baruch, a Prussian immigrant, settled in Camden, S.C. He received his degree from the Medical College of Virginia and entered the conflict as a physician in the 3rd South Carolina Battalion, where he joined the fighting before the Battle of Second Manassas. He eventually became surgeon general of the Confederacy.

While he was away during the war, his fiancee, Isabelle Wolfe, painted his portrait in the family home in South Carolina. It was at this time that Sherman began his March to the Sea. His raiders set the Wolfe house afire, and as she rescued the portrait, a Yankee ripped it with his bayonet and slapped her. Witnessing this, a Union officer gave the attacker a beating with his sword.

From this, a romance began to blossom - quickly squelched by the young woman's father, who remarked: "Marriage to a gentile is bad enough, but marriage to a Yankee, never, ever, it is out of the question." Isabelle Wolfe eventually married Baruch. After the war, they moved to New York City, where he set up what became a prominent medical practice on West 57th Street.

Mrs. Baruch became a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and the couple raised their children with pro-Southern views. If a band struck up "Dixie," Dr. Baruch would jump up and give the Rebel yell, much to the chagrin of the family. A man of usual reserve and dignity, Dr. Baruch nevertheless would let loose with the piercing yell even in the Metropolitan Opera House.

Their son Bernard became the most successful financier of his time and one of the best-known American Jews of the 20th century. Bernard Baruch was an adviser to presidents from World War I to World War II and became a confidant of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Today, little remains of the Jewish Confederate South. With the mass migrations from Russia and Eastern Europe, new immigrants knew little if anything of the struggle that had ensued during the preceding half-century. Confederate Southern Jewry eventually disappeared.

Thomas C. Mandes is a physician in Vienna, Va.

netnet81
02-05-2007, 01:38 PM
Texas had a large jewish population in cities such as Galveston, Houston and Dallas. While we're not what you call deep south, our population of the time had emmigrated from deep south states and probably had the same sensibilities regarding their religion. There is one book I can think of regarding Jews in Texas, the title escapes me, but if you do a search for "jews texas" it should come up.

Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park portrays a Jewish family, later than our period but Hal Simon, the curator might have a stash of information for you. Although he is not Jewish himself, he has done quite a bit of research on the subject. The park's website is http://www.oldcitypark.org/

Spinster
02-05-2007, 07:59 PM
You'll want to look also at how you'll chose to interpret your particular branch of Judaism as it was practiced at the time. Often, it will provide food for thought for others.

Here's an example:
In our group, we have a number of Seventh Day Adventists ( a Christian denomination that observes the same Sabbath that you do). As a result, these folks commonly do not shop during the Sabbath---which means they also don't go to sutlers. If this interpretation of how the Sabbath is observed is also common to your branch of Judaism during the period, give the practice due thought as you plan your weekend.

This same religious observance has also meant a variance in diet to keep Adventist food preparation traditions, some of which are related to kosher law.

On a larger scale though, especially in your geographic area, setting up well before dark on Friday, lighting the candles and proceeding through the traditional Sabbath services would draw both attention and respect in the largely Protestant southen reenacting community.

And, while this is a modern example, I think it somewhat pertinent in thinking of typical attitudes in this region--I received a phone call a few weeks ago in which a friend in a distant location had aided someone by locating a lawyer in my city that was needed quickly and desparately. The caller said " Now, Mrs. L, I've looked at his website, and he looks to have all the credentials for this specialized work, and you've told me he is well thought of in the community, and I've spoken with him and I know he is Jewish. Now you know I'm a strong Baptist, so what I want to know--Is he an observant Jew? Because if he is, that's who we are going to hire, but if he's not, I need to start over"

I think you find that interpreting an observant Jewish household will bring you a lot of interesting questions and a lot a respect, especially if you are also keeping kosher.

bob 125th nysvi
02-07-2007, 03:28 PM
First off I am posting this on behalf of my mother. She and my father are having an um, debate. My father is not a reenactor, but my mother, my two youngest sisters and of course, myself are. We also happen to be Southern and Jewish. My mother has done a lot of research on Jewish people during this time period in the South and would like for us to do an impression that incorporates our religion. My father thinks if we do anything openly "Jewish" that it could be potentially dangerous. He envisions some redneck bigot flipping a farby filter cigarette into our tent. My mother on the other hand thinks most reenactors have better then average educations and tend to be open minded. She has noted there are Christian services at most events and there don't seem to be any problems.

I am asking for opinions and thoughts anyone would like to share. If it makes any difference we tend to mainly attend events in the "west". Is my father right in thinking we should remain "hidden period Jews"? Or is my mother right in thinking that most reenactors are more enlightened and would appreciate an impression of a minority that is under represented, at least in our area?

Thanks.

that one of the strongest Jewish cultural traditions is adherance to their religious beliefs in the face of persecution so in some sense observing your religion while reenacting would be honoring your religious beliefs and the efforts your ancestors went through to maintain their religion.

Just as I'm sure Jewish soldiers did during the CW.

The Union did appoint rabbis to service the needs to Jewish troops so your efforts would also be historically correct and would probably be welcomed by other Jewish reenactors. Especially if you could get a rabbi to do a field service on Saturday before the 'battles' began.

I think the vast majority of reenactors would not be put off or upset by your protrayal and some may actually be interested in what you have to offer because it would be unique and different. If only from a 'I learned something new at that reenactment' standpoint.

As to finding a idiot who will make an issue of what you are doing to the point of being belligerent, well you can find one that will get that way over whether or not your button holes are handsewn or not. So hiding to me is not a solution.

bob 125th nysvi
02-07-2007, 03:41 PM
Seriously, what she had in mind was try to recreate what Jewish people during the period might have done if they found themselves traveling on the sabbath. As most of you all probably know our sabbath starts sundown Friday and ends sundown Saturday. There are a lot of opportunities for observing the Sabbath at events. We have the lighting of Sabbath candles and associated prayers on Friday night, Saturday morning worship, Havadalah service that concludes it on Saturday night. Anyway you get the point. Jews during the time would have tried to seek out other Jews to celebrate the Sabbath with and to worship with. Certainly any non Jews would have been welcomed to observe. This what we were thinking about recreating.

That there are two sides to the Sabbath coin.

Civilian reenactors will have the luxury of being able to observe the sabbath in a proper traditional way.

Soldiers will have to do the best they can in and around the demands of the Army and the war.

So maybe the best service you can provide is following the traditional sabbath as best you can and welcoming the soldiers who can join in when they can. To give them a taste of home and reminder of who they are.

On the flip side (and you don't sound like this type of person) you will have to remember that war does have its demands which can not be put off. So a soldier should not be shunned, made to feel unwelcome or turned away because he can not fulfill ALL his religious obligations during the sabbath. Be thankful he is doing what he can to honor his God.

Even though we are play acting the war we are trying to recreate what it was actually like. You are doing your part and the soldiers are doing theirs.

EFA
02-12-2007, 09:41 AM
Thanks for posting this. I find it interesting whenever I go to an event that, like in life in general, it takes all kinds. You will find those who do use reenacting as an outlet for their hidden bigotry, as well as those who are truly out there to portray life as it was. One would hope that manners and ettiquette would be as important to those portraying the lives of people from the 19th century as to those who actually lived it.
I wouldn't know how to go about doing an active Jewish portayal, but I applaud you for getting the ball rolling. Best wishes!