GGC history professor brings Temple bombing exhibit to Atlanta

Georgia Gwinnett College history professor Ellen G. Rafshoon has curated the exhibit “‘The Bomb that Healed:’ Rabbi Jacob M. Rothschild, Civil Rights and The Temple Bombing of 1958,” in Atlanta for a five month display. The exhibit will remain open until January 5, 2009 at the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Collection of Emory University in Atlanta.

Georgia Gwinnett College history professor Ellen G. Rafshoon has curated the exhibit “‘The Bomb that Healed:’ Rabbi Jacob M. Rothschild, Civil Rights and The Temple Bombing of 1958,” in Atlanta for a five month display. The exhibit will remain open until January 5, 2009 at the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Collection of Emory University in Atlanta.

Nearly 50 years ago, dynamite exploded in the brick edifice of The Temple on Peachtree Street, home to Atlanta’s oldest and largest Jewish congregation. The 1958 attack was linked to hate group activities around the South during the Civil Rights Movement, and the impact of the bombing on the city’s Jewish Community is documented in the new exhibit which draws on the personal papers of The Temple’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Rothschild, a friend and ally of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The bombers had intended to intimidate Jews, who were seen as co-conspirators along with blacks in the civil rights struggle, but this act of terror had the opposite effect,” Dr. Rafshoon said. “When Rabbi Rothschild, returned to his office the day after the bombing, he was greeted with mailbags filled with sympathetic messages from Atlanta and from across the nation.”

The display, which includes letters, photographs and published clippings, will show how Rabbi Rothschild worked openly to build support for desegregation among Atlanta’s religious and civic leaders. The overwhelming support extended to The Temple’s congregation gave Atlanta Jews the confidence to become more active in bridging the divide between blacks and whites, Dr. Rafshoon further commented.

In addition to the exhibit, on October 12, Dr. Rafshoon will present a slide show about the exhibition at The Temple, located at 1589 Peachtree Street, NE in Atlanta. She will be joined by the Rabbi’s widow, Janice Rothschild Blumberg and other Temple congregants who will share their memories of the attack.

The exhibit is housed on the 10th floor of the Woodruff Library building on the Emory University campus. It will be open from 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For information on Saturday hours, call 404.727.6887. It is free and open to the public.

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