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January 12: The Rebbetzin Serves as Rabbi

Paula Ackerman, the first woman to serve as spiritual leader of an American synagogue when she was invited to take over the duties of her rabbi husband after his death in 1950, herself died at age 95 on this date in 1989. During the tenure of her husband at Congregation Beth Israel in Meridian, Mississippi […]

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August 4: The Earthen Dam

On this date in 1964, the bodies of civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney were dug up from an earthen dam, forty-four days after their murder by Ku Klux Klansmen on June 21st, the opening day of the Mississippi Freedom Summer Campaign. Schwerner, 24, was an experienced Jewish civil rights worker […]

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Mississippi Freedom Summer: Voices of the Volunteers

1. Heather Booth If we organize, we can change the world. I learned this lesson powerfully from my experience with the Mississippi Summer Project in 1964. I was 18, a white Chicago student, joining with others to shine a spotlight on the conditions in Mississippi and the horrors of America’s apartheid system. I went to […]

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August 26: Coming Home from Mississippi

Matthew Zwerling, a Jewish volunteer for Mississippi Freedom Summer, wrote to his parents in New York from Clarksdale, Mississippi on this date in 1964 suggesting an “unstrenuous” three-day weekend upon his return home. He thanked them for a money order, and noted that he was “still think[ing] Mississippi about 30 hours a day.” Zwerling, a […]

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February 4: Curing Pellagra

On this date in 1915, Dr. Joseph Goldberger began to conduct dietary experiments with eleven prisoners (offered pardons for their participation) in Mississippi to determine the cause of pellagra, a loathesome skin disease that was then causing 10,000 deaths annually in the U.S. By adjusting the food in the inmates’ meals, Goldberger determined that pellagra […]

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