From Hattiesburg, MS to Beachwood, OH – Rabbi Joshua Caruso

This post on “If Not Now, When?” the interactive blog of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple previews Rabbi Caruso’s upcoming series of classes based on cities he visited in his recent January to June 2013 sabbatical travel across America, and his reflections and invitation to the upcoming weekend honoring Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, z’l, whose 100th birthday would have been this year 2013, and will be honored (as detailed below) the weekend of October 11-12, 2013. Please read and respond below, as you wish, and spread the word about Rabbi Caruso’s class on American Jewish life, and the upcoming weekend honoring Rabbi Lelyveld.
Building a sabbatical itinerary was one of the most exciting and challenging tasks my family and I  undertook last winter. However, from the very start I knew Hattiesburg, Mississippi would be on the list!Jewish life in Hattiesburg – as it was in many such cities in the Deep South – was rich for the small but critical mass of Jews who lived there. Small in number, but mighty in the business and civic life of the town, Hattiesburg’s Jews set down strong roots which still bear fruit today.

For these reasons, I knew I wanted to visit Hattiesburg and other cities like it. Primarily, though, I will say that Hattiesburg came on to my radar the way it did for so many of you here at Fairmount Temple.  Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, our synagogue’s spiritual leader for nearly three decades, traveled down to Hattiesburg during the Freedom Summer of 1964 to facilitate voter registration for ALL citizens of the state. As has been well recorded, Rabbi Lelyveld was struck with a tire iron by segregationists, and was rightfully heralded for his bravery and courage in the face of great danger during those times.

This coming Monday I will begin my four-part series on Jews in the Promised Land of America. I have divided the series into what I like to call, A Tale of Four Cities. Each week, I will focus on a different city I visited that will serve as a model to represent the Jewish presence in that particular region. Join me this Monday for a glance at Hattiesburg, and then join us on that week’s Shabbat for a 100th birthday celebration of Rabbi Lelyveld’s life. Social justice champion Rabbi David Saperstein  will be speaking at the Friday Shabbat Evening Service and former Congressman Louis Stokes will be sharing a few reflections as well. Then on Saturday, join us for a Torah Study (led by all our clergy) at 9:15 a.m., a lay-led Minyan at 10:30, and a special luncheon at 12:15 p.m. (RSVP by Monday for luncheon, see below).

I hope you will be able to join us as we remember our beloved spiritual leader – Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld.

Rabbi Joshua Caruso

Monday Night Learning  

Mondays, Oct. 7, 14, 28, Nov. 4, 7:15 p.m. –  A Tale of Four Cities with Rabbi Caruso RSVPs requested to Cathy Lipton, email or  216-447-9539.