North Carolina welcomes Jews (well, up to a point)

“Despite [my] being a professional Jew perpetually in the spotlight, North Carolina and its legions of Christian soldiers have been kind to me and my mishpucha, my extended family. We are, after all, the original chosen people who received the covenant at Sinai, begat the Apostles, and perfected the art of curing pastrami.

“They have made me feel at home…. Carolina is nothing like the treacherous land of exile our Eastern European ancestors endured; Scripture-quoting plumbers are not the sword-wielding Cossacks of yesteryear. But should Jesus ever return, I fear that all bets are off.”

— From “I Survived Teaching Jewish Studies in North Carolina” by Jarrod Tanny in the Jewish Daily Forward (March 27)

Tanny is associate professor of history at UNC Wilmington.


A crack in the wall that kept Jews from office

“[By 1840] only North Carolina in the South did not grant civil equality [to Jews] and it would not do so until 1868, though efforts to remedy this were made in the 1850s. In practice, however, Jews could be elected to office, as was Jacob Henry to the House of Commons in 1808, because almost no one cared to enforce the exclusion.

“In this, the Jewish case in North Carolina was similar to that of Roman Catholics, who were to gain legal equality only in 1835 but had served before then, by a nod and a wink.”

– FromConjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860″ by Michael O’Brien (2004)

Apparently no such restrictions ever impaired Jews’ eligibility to pay taxes.