Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience Opens in New Orleans

Sharing stories, exploring family history, listening to real life recordings of those who changed the country; that is the goal of the newly opened Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. Located in a historic building in downtown New Orleans, exhibits will explore the many ways Jews in the American South impacted and were impacted by the communities in which they lived. The MSJE covers 13 states and over 300 years of history from Colonial America through the Civil Rights Movement. “We are excited to announce an opening date after a pause as a result of the pandemic,” said museum chair Jay Tanenbaum, in a press release. “Jews in the south formed bonds of deep friendship and community-building with their non-Jewish neighbors. These stories show how people of different backgrounds come together to create the American experience. This can be a bridge to a better understanding and future for all of us.”


Multi-media exhibits will illustrate how Jewish immigrants and succeeding generations adapted to life in the South. According to Russell Palmer, a founding Executive Board member, the Jewish experience is a success story. “Jews settled in virtually every town throughout the South. They helped build the communities and became leaders in those communities.” Palmer says the museum will also tell the more difficult stories about segregation and the antisemitism suffered at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan. A highlight will be audio recordings of six rabbis who participated in the Civil Rights Movement in the South. Palmer says, “Visitors will actually be able to hear from the rabbis who lived and marched in the movement.” 


Storytelling is one way for people to connect to shared experiences, and the museum plans to harness the power of storytelling. Visitors will be able to learn about their own families through use of an interactive map connected to cities throughout the South. “Everybody has an interesting story,” says Palmer, “The museum is a collection of stories of the families who settled here. It is truly the American story.”


The museum is open now by reservation. For information about visiting or to learn about donating artifacts for its exhibits, visit  



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