The Record

“Judaism in the South” Independent Study

Marina Kazarian, Contributing Writer

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A year’s worth of work came together C Period Wednesday during Sam Stein’s (12) Independent Study presentation on “Judaism in the South.”

For the project, Stein researched his genealogy and tried to understand why two branches of his family, one from the 1840’s and one from the early 1900’s, settled in Mississippi, his Independent Study adviser Deborah Stanford said.

Over the past year Stein has collected data from books and databases, recorded interviews with his paternal grandfather, and studied primary source documents from his grandfather’s archives, he said.

“I’ve always had a close bond with my grandfather and this has brought us even closer. I feel like researching something that I’m so passionate about really drives me,” Stein said.

Stein’s presentation explored his interview process, especially the importance of framing questions carefully and the difference between closed and open questions, Stanford said.

“Open ended questions would lead to longer stories that tended to uncover more details,” Arjun Khorana (12), who is in Stein’s Independent Study class, said.

Before Wednesday, Stein told the students in his class to interview a family member, Stanford said. During the presentation, the class broke up into groups of four to discuss and reflect on the interviews, she said.

Interviewing family members gave the students a better idea of what Stein had been doing the past several months, Khorana said.

Stein began his research by reading The Provincials by Eli Evans, a book about a Jewish family living in North Carolina, Stanford said. Stein then started to interpret what his sources revealed about his own family and their process of settling in the South and becoming part of the white community there as Jews, she said.

Stanford guided Stein’s research by helping him set clear goals and read historical documents, she said. Stein hopes to make his study a lifelong pursuit and something that he will pass down to the rest of his family, Stanford said.

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“Judaism in the South” Independent Study