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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Institute of Southern Jewish Life

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Museums

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.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 4

My husband and I attended the fly-in which was attended by representatives of many southern synagogues, to learn more about putting on Jewish Film festivals in our communties. The ISJL staff were so well organized and hospitable to us and it was a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow Jews from across the south! The religious school curriculum has been a huge help for our children and young people. We always enjoy it so much when the ISJL fellows come and lead services too. I also eagerly await my devar Torah - "Taste of Torah" wrtten by ISJL's rabbi and emailed to me each week. Thank you ISJL for all you do! Suzanne and Jim Geiger, dothan, alabama



Rating: 5

having a very positive effect on our sunday school. provides curricula that are consistent year to year.great holiday programs provides opportunities for entire community to participate



Rating: 5

As an educator (Religious Studies professor) I have seen ISJL enrich and educate thousands of people in my own community (Jackson MS) and our entire region. My college hosts the Jackson Jewish Film Festival, sponsored by ISJL, and we have sent student interns to ISJL for many excellent experiences and learning opportunities unavailable elsewhere. ISJL has significantly impacted the study of Southern and Southern Jewish history through the unique services and resources of their their History Department. I find ISJL to be one of the most useful, on-of-a-kind, and innovative institutions in our community.



Rating: 5

As co-chair of the Mobile Jewish Film Festival I have worked with the Institute for nine years now. I could not have asked for a better experience! When we first began our festival they helped us take those first baby steps and encouraged us every step of the way. The festival has grown more and more successful every year, but we still choose to remain under the umbrella of Jewish Cinema South and the Institute because of their expertise and enthusiasm. We hope to continue and even grow this wonderful event for years to come and will no doubt lean on the Institute's guidance all the way.