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World War II and "GI Jew"Author Touring Area Towns where Jewish Soldiers were Stationed

Deborah Dash Moore, author of "GI Jews: How World War II Changed a Generation," is excited about her upcoming swing through Louisiana and Mississippi. After all, many of the Jewish soldiers she writes about in the book spent time at military bases in Hattiesburg and Biloxi. She will visit those communities, and make an appearance at the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, as part of the Southern States Jewish Literary Series, coordinated by the Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life.

Institute Historian Stuart Rockoff said this is the first in what should be a series of book tours tied to the celebration of 350 years of American Jewish life. About half a million Jews were in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, seeing action in a variety of ways. In this book, Moore details not only the struggles Jews had with an anti-Semitic enemy, but also the prejudices of fellow soldiers. She uses memoirs, oral histories and letters to follow the military careers of 15 Jewish men, from dealing with blatantly non-kosher rations to harrowing encounters with concentration camp survivors. Many of the soldiers had taken their Jewish identities for granted in the neighborhoods where they grew up, but being forced to face their differences in the military setting.

Moore is a professor of religion at Vassar College, and a historian of the 20th century American Jewish experience. Her first book explored second-generation New York Jews, and "To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Jewish Dream in Miami and Los Angeles" explored big-city Jews who moved to those communities after World War II. Rockoff noted that Moore will be heading a panel at the 22nd Street Y in New York City two days before beginning her Southern swing. "We're bringing big-city programs to (smaller) communities down South."

Moore will speak on March 8 at the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, at 7 p.m. The Jewish Studies Department at Tulane University is co-sponsoring the evening.

On March 9, she will speak at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The university's history department, Congregation B'nai Israel and the Military Museum of Mississippi at Camp Shelby are co-sponsors. The 7 p.m. lecture will be at the university's Liberal Arts building, on the corner of South 31 and Pearl Streets, at 7 p.m.

On March 10, she will visit Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College for the 7 p.m. lecture at the Jefferson Davis Campus Arena Theater in Gulfport. The George Altbach Unit of B'nai B'rith is co-sponsoring.

The project is also sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Jewish Endowment Foundation of New Orleans.