First-hand experiences with the past. New perspectives on southern history. Celebrating immigrants’ contributions to the American story.
The ISJL Immigration Traveling Trunk is a hands-on educational opportunity containing activities, artifacts, photographs, maps, oral histories, and three lesson plans to teach 4th- through 6th-grade students of all backgrounds about 18th- through 20th-century Jewish immigration to the American South and how these immigrants made an impact on their communities.
Jews have always been a minority population in the South, and yet they have forged communities and preserved their religious traditions in this region for over 400 years. Exploring southern Jewish heritage leads students to an important understanding of and appreciation for our region’s culture and diversity—seen through the lens of American Jewish history, but offering a wide perspective on the history of this entire country.
The Immigration Traveling Trunk engages students with history, literature, geography, and math, and aligns with curriculum standards in the ISJL’s entire thirteen-state region. With archival materials and stories representing the diversity of southern Jewish life, students from across the region become historians, experiencing firsthand the magic of object-based learning.
Each trunk contains ready-to-go-lesson plans with supporting activities, artifacts, and hands-on adventures! Three lesson plans are included in each trunk, and each lesson is approximately ninety minutes long. Here’s a snapshot:
Lesson One: Leaving Europe
What’s it like to pack a suitcase and leave home, never to return? Why did some Jews leave Europe for America? Using Jewish artifacts from the trunk, students will identify the items that Jews brought with them to the United States, understand the roots of discrimination, and meet Jewish immigrants who moved to the South.
Lesson Two: Arriving in America
What’s it like to be the only person of your background in a community? What is a peddler? Students will learn about immigrating to the South, finding a place in the community, and navigating a new economic landscape.
Lesson Three: Immigration Past and Present
How did Judaism survive in the South? What does immigration look like today? By identifying the Jewish presence in American history and reading contemporary immigrant poetry, students will learn about the challenges immigrants face in their new homes and gain an appreciation for immigrants’ contributions to American history.
After several years of award-winning engagement in classrooms across the South, the ISJL Immigration Traveling Trunk is being completely re-vamped to represent how students learn today. We appreciate your patience as we prepare new lessons, add archival materials, and develop a trunk that’s accessible to all!
If you’re interested in learning more about the Immigration Traveling Trunk, call 601.362.6357 or email Director of Heritage and Interpretation Nora Katz.
Give me your tired, your poor