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ODU Professor to Discuss the Untold Jewish History of Selma at Science Pub

By Frances Calderon

Selma, Ala., is known for its role in the Civil Rights Movement.

However, it also has a long and rich Jewish history. But now, its synagogue faces difficult decisions. How can the remaining four Jews of Selma ensure that their story is told for another 120 years?

Amy Milligan, Batten Endowed assistant professor of Jewish Studies & Women's Studies at Old Dominion University and director of the Institute for Jewish Studies & Interfaith Understanding, will discuss this topic at the November Science Pub.

"I'll talk about the history of Selma's Jewish community, specifically about how they were early settlers to the Black Belt region of Alabama and were crucial to the development of the city," Milligan said. "Mainly, though, I'll be talking about what it means to be one of the four remaining members of Temple Mishkan Israel, Selma's only synagogue."

Milligan will present her discussion on Nov. 20 at Maker's Craft Brewery, 735 E 23rdSt., Norfolk. Networking begins at 6:30 p.m.; the program begins at 7. The event is free and open to the public, and the first 20 attendees will receive a free drink ticket.

Although the Jewish community was a vital constituent in influencing Selma blossoming into the society it is now, the community has been experiencing an extreme decline for decades.

"For me, it is important to talk about the tenacity of small congregations, their integration into the larger community, and the hope that they have for the future," Milligan said.

Milligan's studies on Jewish history highlight its importance, struggles and preservation. Awareness for such a historically significant community serves to ensure its survival and to ensure that diversity continues to be an indispensable element of shaping American society and history.

"It's not a sad story, but rather one of survival, family, innovation and great hope," she said.

Milligan said she hopes to take the audience on a journey with her "as we talk about Selma's Jewish community, and that they will also find inspiration in the story of a small group of people who are so committed to their temple, to each other, and to their larger city that they continue to generously give back."

Science Pubs ODU connects researchers and community members by holding events where they can interact in laid-back environments. RSVPs are encouraged but not required. To RSVP for the November Science Pub, go to this link.

The next Science Pub is scheduled for Dec. 3 at Smartmouth Brewing Company, 1309 Raleigh Ave., Norfolk. Yuping Liu-Thompkins, a professor in the Department of Marketing, will talk about her research on the influence of online reviews.

Frances Calderon is a student in entrepreneurship and public relations, a communication class which sees students work in partnership with the University's Office of Strategic Communication & Marketing

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