Mission: The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) is dedicated to providing educational and rabbinic services to Southern Jewish communities, documenting and preserving the rich history of the Southern Jewish experience, and promoting a Jewish cultural presence throughout a thirteen state region.
Geographic areas served: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia
Programs: Rabbinic & educational services - the rabbinic services department leads services, teaches classes and provides a rabbinic presence in southern congregations that cannot afford a full-time rabbi of their own. The education department supports congregational religious schools large and small. All partnering schools utilize the isjl's comprehensive, trans-denominational religious school curriculum designed to promote a common body of jewish knowledge delivered by itinerant educators.
history/oral history - the history department delivers lectures, maintains archives and is currently building a web-based archive with a history of every southern jewish community. To ensure that the rich history of the southern jewish experience is captured, oral histories as well as research are placed in a digital archive online and artifacts are preserved through the museum of the southern jewish experience. Curatorial-through the museum of southern jewish experience, isjl seeks to preserve, interpret, and document the long and rich tradition of jewish life in the south.
department of community engagement - enhancement of adult education, outreach opportunities, entertainment, fundraising & family programing in the region served by isjl.
cultural & arts programming-the cultural & arts programmming department is responsible for isjl's marketing and delivers a variety of performances , film, lectures and special events to communities large and small.
I grew up in Miami (not the South but a suburb of NY or Havana) but because of my involvement in a high school youth group befriended many Jews in the South. I think what they have done to preserve the history of the Jewish South as well as to educate those in the South is fabulous.
Personal Bible study is invaluable to me. For several years I have printed the Taste of Torah lessons to read and reread, finding the portions by the Director to be masterfully taught, insightful, humorous, and at times, even personally moving.
I became acquainted with ISJL through my high school best friend, now the Rabbi's secretary. The benefit of my involvement is in knowing that more Jewish children and young adults in small communities in the South will have their very rich and most unique heritage among the world's cultures opened up to them, and nurtured, and that it will change their lives forever.