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December 22, 1978 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-12-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Leo Frank Case, Change in
Assimilationist Tendencies
Related in Atlanta History

Wishing the Community

A Happy



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Thursday Is Men's Night.
••• ■•■ ••••• ■ ••• ■

The tragic Leo Frank
case, in which an innocent
Jew was lynched in Geor-
gia, the assimilationist
trends of the early decades
of this century and the
eventual acceptance of
Jewish responsibilities by
an entire community and
relevant Southern Jewish
experiences are under re-
view in an important his-
tory of a leading Jewish
community in the South.
"Strangers Within the
Gate City': by Steven
Hertzberg, a history of the
Jews of Atlanta ("Gate City
of the New South"), is the
first such study of its kind; it
forms a significant contri-
bution toward understand-
ing the unique experience of
a distinctive American
Jewish group.
As background for his
study of Atlanta Jewry, the
author, a young historian
trained at the University of
Chicago, notes the special'
paradoxes that have
marked the experience of
Southern Jews:
"Merchants in a land
dominated by an agra-
rian ideal, religious dis-
senters in a Christ-
haunted land, venerators
of learning in a society
plagued by illiteracy, vic-
tims of violence and reli-
giotis prejudice who took
sanctuary in a section
characterized by a milit-
ant spirit and racial op-
pression, and foreigners
in a hotbed of
xenophobia, they lived
the drama of isolation,
accommodation and mo-
The formal history of the
Atlanta Jewish community
begins with the settlement
of the first Jews in the city
in 1845. The major influx,
however, occurred,after the
Civil War, when the city
emerged as a regional met-
ropolis whose Jewish com-
munity. was one of the
largest in the South.
The half century follow-
ing the war — the prime
focus of this study — began
with the Jewish newcomers
being welcomed as harbin-
gers of commercial oppor-
tunity, and it was during
this period that many of the
community's enduring in-
stitutions were established.
It ended with the notori-
ous Leo Frank case of
1913-15 — a virulent out-
break of anti-Semitism
culminating in the lynching
of a Jewish factory superin-
tendent wrongfully con-
victed of murdering a gen-
tile girl.

Atlanta Jewry was
shattered by the Leo
Frank case, "one of the
great causes celebres of
the 20th Century and
perhaps the most lurid
manifestation of anti-
Semitism in American
history." However, as the
author describes in the
epilogue that brings his
story up to date, the At-
lanta Jewish community
revived from the tragedy,
sharing with jts non-

Jewish neighbors in the
city's increasingly boom-
ing economic and cul-
tural development.
Within recent years, At-
lantan have elected not
only a Jewish mayor,
four state legislators, and
a number of judges, but
also Georgia's first Con-
In addition to such tradi-
tional sources as the local
press, institutional records,
and personal papers, Dr.
Hertzberg has carefully
mined other materials such
as tax digests, census
schedules, death certifi-
cates, city directories and
naturalization documents
to extract information. -- -


Friday, December V, 1918 29

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