The Jewish community in my hometown in Alabama was founded in 1888. Most of the money raised to build the synagogue was through the efforts of the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Society. Sherry Blanton, the synagogue’s historian writes, “With boundless enthusiam they quickly planned a New Year’s hop as their first fund raiser. A series of successful bazaars enlarged their treasury, further augmented by the profits of Purim parties, strawberry festivals, and oyster dinners as well as “tariffs on the Jewish gentlemen””
Yes folks, my lovely synagogue was built with money with proceeds from oyster dinners!!! I was appalled. But, then again they built a synagogue none-the-less and it is the 11th oldest community still worshiping in the same building. The community is dwindling, but it will always be my home away from home. Recently, it became even more special when I celebrated my wedding there on 30 December 2006.
But, that is not the reason I am telling you about oysters. My cousin sent me a very funny family story that involves his mother, my Aunt Sophie z”l:
“One day, Aunt Julia was visiting in Birmingham. Mom had a Seder Plate hanging on the dining room wall. To quote Aunt Julia: “Sophie – what a lovely oyster plate you have!””
I had never heard this story. Thank you Mark, you made my day!