Jackson in Hinds County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Bombings in Jewish Community
— Mississippi Freedom Trail —
Rabbi Perry Nussbaum came to Beth Israel in 1954 and was an important voice for racial justice. Working with diverse ministers, he helped found the Committee of Concern, raising money for black churches burned by the Klan. In 1967, Klan members bombed Beth Israel's new synagogue. Two months later, they bombed the Nussbaum home. Fortunately, no one was hurt in either attack, and Rabbi Nussbaum continued his outspoken leadership.
Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson was chartered in 1861. Their synagogue on South State Street was the first in Mississippi. Toronto native Perry Nussbaum was hired as rabbi in 1954. His nineteen years of service would be marked by the Civil Rights Movement's tension and turmoil. Rabbi Nussbaum was morally opposed to racial discrimination and sometimes was at odds with those congregants who wanted to maintain the status quo of a segregated society. Some feared his speaking out would have perilous consequences, but he was undeterred in his activism. In a 1955 sermon, the rabbi declared that Judaism teaches that people of all races are children of God. In
When hundreds of Freedom Riders were arrested in Jackson and sent to Parchman Penitentiary in 1961, he drove to visit them each week and sent letters to their parents about their children's welfare. In 1964, he helped organize the Committee of Concern, an interfaith, interracial group of clergy that raised funds to rebuild black churches that had been bombed and burned. That year Beth Israel broke ground for a new synagogue on Old Canton Road, and on March 19, 1967, the first service was held. Racially diverse members of the Committee of Concern attended the dedication.
Six months later, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the new synagogue, targeting the rabbi's office. Fortunately, no one was in the temple at the time. Three days after the attack, local ministers from the Greater Jackson Clergy Alliance organized a Walk of Penance to express their sorrow and support for the congregation. Two months later, Klansmen bombed the Nussbaum home. Although the house was severely damaged, the rabbi and his wife, Arene, escaped injury.
On May 1, 1968, 270 of Jackson's white leaders signed their names to "A Statement of Belief and Intention," a full-page ad in the Clarion-Ledger calling for improved race relations. Among them were Rabbi Nussbaum and many congregants. Later that
Through the years, members of Beth Israel Congregation have engaged in many efforts supporting social justice and racial reconciliation, an appropriate tribute to the leadership of Rabbi Perry Nussbaum.
Erected 2018 by the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division. (Marker Number 28.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Churches & Religion • Civil Rights • Notable Events. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Freedom Trail series list. A significant historical date for this entry is March 19, 1967.
Location. 32° 22.274′ N, 90° 7.853′ W. Marker is in Jackson, Mississippi, in Hinds County. Marker is on Old Canton Road south of River Thames Road, on the right when traveling south. Located in front of Beth Israel Congregation. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5315 Old Canton Road, Jackson MS 39211, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. G.I. Subdivision (approx. 2.6 miles away); Tougaloo College (approx. 2.6 miles away); The Oil Industry in Mississippi (approx. 2.8 miles away); a different marker also named Tougaloo College (approx. 2.8 miles away); Farm Bell (approx. 2.9 miles away); Fortenberry-Parkman Farm (approx. 2.9 miles away); The Escape Proof Jail of West, MS (approx. 2.9 miles away); Smoke House (approx. 2.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jackson.
Also see . . .
1. Jewish Telegraphic Agency- Only Synagogue in Jackson, Miss., is Damaged in Night Bombing. (Submitted on May 16, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Jewish Telegraphic Agency- Jackson Rabbi’s Home Bombed; Synagogue Was Bombed in September. (Submitted on May 16, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 24, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 16, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 1,265 times since then and 968 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 16, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.