Lives Of Quiet Affirmation: An Alabama Jewish Community (March 1-May 11, 2001)
Lives of Quiet Affirmation: An Alabama Jewish Community is a
photographic exhibition designed to celebrate, preserve, and interpret the traditions and lives of the Jews in Calhoun County. It will be on
display on the first floor of the Birmingham Public Library from March 1 – May 11, 2001.
The Jewish community profiled in this project is similar to other small Jewish settlements across the South: the
immigration of the early German families, establishment of a formal religious community, and the
continuation of a Jewish way of life. Unfortunately, because of the advanced age of many of the residents and a lack of younger Jewish
families moving into the area, many small Jewish communities across the South are disappearing. Yet, in Anniston (the
geographical home of Temple Beth El, the religious center of this Jewish community), a Jewish
way of life continues.
The exhibit, organized into faces, places, and passages, contains 136
historical and modern photographs. More than three dozen are part of the Russell Brothers Collection, a restored group of glass plates of
historical photos taken by the Russell Brothers who photographed Anniston in the late 19th and early 20th Century. The
exhibit's earliest photograph, circa 1885, is one of Ullman Brothers Department Store. Leon
Ullman moved to Anniston in 1884 with his brothers and opened the first dry goods store in the town. The exhibit
captures the passages in a Jew's life: from the proud family gathering to welcome a new baby, to the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah with the
delighted father looking on, to the wedding portraits of demure brides.
"Faces" profile the people: Alfred Carco who escaped the horrors of a
concentration camp to become one of Anniston's gifted chefs, Miss Dorothy Sterne who donated more than $35,000 in 1969 to found a day-care
center for the children of welfare parents, Joseph Saks whom the Saks community honors with his name, and Nathan Springer, a prominent optometrist, who began his career selling glasses from a horse and buggy
in Atlanta. One can see their faces and read their stories.
"Places" show many of Anniston's businesses owned by the early Jewish
merchants (and also a growing and changing Alabama city) as well as Temple Beth El over its 107-year history.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Public Library of
Anniston-Calhoun County, The James Rosen Charitable Foundation, and H and W Transfer and
Storage of Anniston, Alabama. Curator is Sherry Blanton of Jacksonville, Alabama.