The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life (ISJL) supports, connects, and celebrates Jewish life in the South.
The ISJL provides programs and services across the South. We offer resources tailored to meet the needs of communities of all sizes—from the largest congregations to the last-Jews-in-town. Throughout our thirteen-state region, we work with individuals, congregations, and organizations to preserve the storied past of southern Jewish life, while at the same time enriching the ongoing experience of Jews in the contemporary American South.
Everything we do is informed by the expressed needs of the communities we serve. We strive to be as responsive as possible to all of our partners as we continue the ongoing journey of supporting, connecting, and celebrating Jewish life in the south.
We began as the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in 1986. The Museum, which now exists as a separate New Orleans-based entity, was formed as a response to an outcry from small-town southern Jews in need of a repository for artifacts, sacred objects, historical documents, and stories. The ISJL remains committed to supporting the museum efforts, and ensuring that the stories and impact of the southern Jewish community will not be forgotten.
But the story of Southern Jewish life is not merely a story of shuttering synagogues and diminishing numbers. It's also a story of growing communities, vibrant congregations, and active Jewish communities of all sizes.
Thus, in 2000, we became the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. In addition to preserving Jewish history, the ISJL works to provide Judaic services and cultural programs to Jewish communities across the South. We cover thirteen states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.