Clara Lowenburg Moses : Memoir of a Southern Jewish Woman

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9780970388506: Clara Lowenburg Moses : Memoir of a Southern Jewish Woman

Clara Lowenburg Moses: Memoir of a Southern Jewish Woman shares the story of one of Natchez’s most interesting residents. Born in 1865 to Isaac and Ophelia Lowenburg and the granddaughter of Jewish community founders John and Jannette Mayer, Clara grew up in an affluent and influential family. In the 1870s her father served as Natchez’s first Jewish mayor, and her maternal aunts and uncles held important economic, civic, and social leadership positions before, during, and after the Civil War.

Clara’s unpublished memoir, from which Machlovitz draws material for her book, reveals a complex and fascinating life. As a Jew in a predominantly Protestant town, Clara struggled to define and maintain her Jewish identity. Born and raised in the late nineteenth-century South, she adopted many of the attitudes and characteristics that make the region unique. Her strong will and independent spirit often put her at odds with Victorian notions of women’s “proper” roles in society.

Throughout the book, Machlovitz expertly portrays Clara as a product of her time and place and as a unique and free-spirited individual. An introductory chapter explores Natchez Jewry during Clara’s lifetime and sets the historical context for her life. Subsequent sections detail her trials and tribulations through adolescence, married life, and widowhood. Clara’s world included a “wicked” stepmother, a deeply troubled husband, numerous brushes with death, and many happy days with family and friends.

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