Preserving the Past & Enhancing the Future

About Us
President's Message 

Did you know the year 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South? JHSMM was founded in 1986 by a small group, who were inspired by a conference of the Southern Jewish Historical Society that had recently been held in Memphis. Harriet Stern, of blessed memory, became the first president of the JHSMM, and under her watch the first edition of the JHSMM newsletter was published in September of 1987. Harriet wrote in her president’s message that the purpose of the JHSMM would be to encourage study and research, provide educational programs and establish local archives.

I am happy to look back and see that JHSMM has met Harriet’s expectations over the years. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, JHSMM has continued programming with the Sumner Levine Speaker Series via Zoom; these programs have been very well received with great attendance. The JHSMM Archives, housed within the Temple Israel Archives, are growing and our volunteers have a strong relationship with the Temple Israel archivist, Jen Kollath, ensuring the archives are available for research to the community. The JHSMM’s Southern Jewish Heritage newsletter is a first-class research newsletter including articles about the Jewish history of Memphis and the Mid-South as well as current events.

In honor of our 35th anniversary, the Executive Board is excited to announce the following: The Board voted to adopt a meaningful new logo of a deeply rooted Tree of Life with leaves and a Jewish star, representing our organization’s ongoing commitment to preserving the past and enhancing the future. Read more about it in our current newsletter.

The Sumner Levine Speaker Series will continue to provide meaningful programs via Zoom until it is safe to meet in person. Given the strong attendance at our Zoom programs, it is conceivable we may continue to offer some programs this way into the future. Further, we have developed and strengthened our bonds with other Jewish historical organizations and museums, to make available to our members a wider range of programs supporting our mission. Access to these programs is available from our website.

JHSMM has begun the first steps of a particularly important program of historical significance to the Memphis Jewish community. The Board is investigating the procedures, legal requirements and funding that would be required to digitize The Hebrew Watchman newspapers from 1925 to the present. In late 2019, JHSMM received the Scott and Donna Langston Archival Grant from the Southern Jewish Historical Society to begin exploring this digitizing project. More information will be announced as it develops.

I am truly honored to have the opportunity to lead JHSMM, its dedicated Board and its many devoted members as we continue “preserving the past and enhancing the future” of Memphis and Mid-South Jewry into our 35th year.

Lorraine Wolf

 President of Jewish Historical Society of Memphis and the Mid-South