Local News

Exhibit Traces Jewish Contributions in Eastern N.C.

Posted August 23, 2000

— Jewish influence is easy to see in some of North Carolina's bigger cities, but Jewish families have also had an impact on rural areas. An exhibit is bringing those contributions to light.

The free exhibit in the Blount-Bridgers House on Bridgers Street in Tarboro helps explain the rich history of Jews in eastern North Carolina.

"A number of people have come in and been absolutely astonished by what they've learned here in this exhibit," says Meade Horne of theEdgecombe Cultural Arts Council.

Jews have always been a minority in the South, but their influence for the last 400 years reaches far beyond their numbers.

Many moved to towns like Goldsboro, Tarboro and Rocky Mount in the 1800s and established family businesses.

Steven Leder still runs his father's department store with his family in downtown Wilson.

"A lot of them left Europe during World War I," he says. "There was terrible pain with Russia crossing the border and all of the unrest in different countries, and I think it's just fantastic that they were able to come here.

"They're very patriotic, and I think they wanted to give back because they've received so much from this great country."

Horne says the exhibit is not intended to separate Jewish tradition from everyone else. It is meant to include it and to show that our histories are more connected that many of us might realize.

The exhibit is open until October 22.


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