Local News

Jewish experience in small-town America eyed

By From page A3 | November 09, 2012

Al Sokolow. Courtesy photo

Al Sokolow. Courtesy photo

Al Sokolow, a retired UC Davis political science professor and public policy specialist on rural issues in America, will present a program titled “The Jewish Experience in American Small Towns: The Identity Issue” at Congregation Bet Haverim on Sunday, Nov. 18.

His talk is at 3 p.m. in the temple’s Social Hall, 1715 Anderson Road, and is free and open to the public.

Acknowledging that small-town residence has not been the dominant story of the Jewish existence in America, Sokolow’s program focuses on the experiences of retaining or losing Jewish identity and practice in areas such as these where Jews are an overwhelmingly small minority.

In addition to featuring the real-life experiences of two Bet Haverim congregants, Sokolow will explore several aspects of the small-town Jewish experience, including:

* Size and other variations;

* The problems of small size;

* Relations with the larger, non-Jewish community;

* Jewish institution-building and coping mechanisms for overcoming the limits of size; and

* The ebb and flow of such communities.

“While the Jewish community within Yolo County is strong, the challenges and opportunities sometimes experienced by Jews in the Davis area past and present have mirrored those of the small towns that Professor Sokolow will share with us,” Rabbi Greg Wolfe said in a news release. “Understanding how generations of American Jews have addressed small-town living can provide greater insights into the evolution of Jewish living and learning in our region.”

This program is part of Bet Haverim’s Jubilee Lifelong Learning Series. In honor of the synagogue’s 50th anniversary, the series highlights speakers from UCD and other area colleges and universities speaking on a variety of issues, including the history of Judaism in the region, Hassidic Jews, interpreting the Talmud and the 1950s immigrant experience in Israel.

The series continues on Sunday, Jan. 27 with a talk on “How the Bible Influenced American Political Ideas,” by Ed Rabin, professor emeritus at the UCD School of Law. That presentation also will be at 3 p.m. in the Social Hall.

Congregation Bet Haverim, a Reform congregation, serves all of Yolo County and surrounding areas. For more information about the Jubilee Lifelong Learning Series, contact Steve Cohen, chair, at [email protected] or Joy Cohan at [email protected], or contact the synagogue at 530-758-0842 or [email protected].

Special to The Enterprise

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