Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities
2008—2009 Forum on Change
History, Science, Technology, and Society
2008-09 Co-ordinating Research Fellow
Jew Like Me: An Oral History of Congregation Temple Bethel, a Black synagogue in the West Oak Lane Neighborhood of Philadelphia
Congregation Temple Bethel is a 58 year-old Black synagogue in the West Oak Lane neighborhood of Philadelphia. It began as a prayer group in the living room of the founder, Rabbi Louise Elizabeth Dailey, and is today a thriving Jewish community. Mother Dailey died in 2001, but she was succeeded by her daughter, Rabbi Debra Bowen, who shares, along with several older members of the congregation, memories of the synagogue's earliest days. Theirs is a story that deserves telling, in the form of this oral history. The American Jewish community is considered whitewashed, yet a survey of the American Jewish universe increasingly uncovers a constellation of ethnic, class, and social backgrounds. This project is about the changing face of American Judaism, and the emerging identities behind it.