Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Addressing North/South disconnect


Mary Glickman

Temple Israel Sisterhood presents An Evening with Mary Glickman, National Jewish Book Award finalist for "One More River," as its second annual author event, which will take place on Wednesday evening, April 2, at 7 p.m. in the newly renovated Roth Social Hall. The cost is $10 per person and includes a dessert reception.

Glickman is the author of three books that address the "disconnect" between Southern and Northern attitudes about the South. "I've found that most Northerners view the South as a Hollywood stereotype, which is a denial of the complex layers and variety of Southern experience." Having lived in Charleston where she found "an ease of relations between the races... in a way I didn't find up North," she was upset when a Boston Globe op-ed appeared years ago denigrating the approach to race at a Charleston museum. Given Boston's checkered history, "it rankled to be lectured" that way. A huge percentage of Northerners who came South during the civil rights era were Jews, whose aim was "to travel south, perhaps be arrested, perhaps beaten, even killed but once their protests were complete, they went en mass back to the safety of the North. Meanwhile, they'd stirred up enmity against Southern Jews who until that time were getting along pretty well." She felt a good way to illustrate the tension in her first novel, Home in the Morning, which is in development for film was to have a Southern Jewish man married to a Northern Jewish woman. Then, "you can't write about the South without writing about race."

Her second book, "One More River," continued exploring the themes, with the story of Mickey Moe who has to prove his worth to the disapproving parents of his girlfriend, Laura Anne Needleman, in 1962. His father, Bernard Levy, had been a mysterious figure in Guilford, Miss., before his death during World War II. He embarks on an odyssey in the backwoods of Mississippi and Tennessee, exploring his father's murky past against the backdrop of the Great Flood of 1927, which Glickman said was "in some ways as transformative of the South as the Civil Rights Era."

Marching to Zion, her latest novel came about after a reader's observation that her first two novels had "constructed a narrative of the Southern Jewish Experience as it intersects with the African American Experience over the course of the 20th century." The new novel fills a gap in the narrative line.

Glickman, who grew up Catholic in Boston, "fell in love at first sight" while visiting the South 30 years ago. "I loved the natural beauty of the South, its architecture, its culture of civility," she said. She and her husband lived in Charleston, S.C. for a year in the late 1980s and made the move permanent in 2008. As a child in a strict Irish-Polish Catholic family, she was attracted to Jewish texts instead of Christian ones. "The good sisters who taught me would say that faith was a gift and by the time I was an adolescent I realized I had not been given the gift." She explored many beliefs but kept coming back to Judaism. She converted when her husband proposed, though she had wanted to do so for several years before then. The great Jewish writers and Ashkenazic liturgical melodies stirred her soul, which she said was looking to find its way home to the Jewish world. Ms. Glickman will share with us her journey into Judaism and the deepening of her thoughts on race in America and Jewish/African American relations.

For additional information or to RSVP, please contact office@tiflorida.org or 407-647-3055.


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