For my independent study this semester I did research on the Jewish community in Appleton. And then wrote a long paper about it.
And it was fantastic. I mean the experience. Although the paper was quite good, I think, too. I don’t know. I don’t think I’ll ever get it back because even if I turn it in on Tuesday the professor is incapable of getting anything back within a month. But the experience.
First of all, the “research”. Was not so much research. I had to go to this “archive” which was, I’m not even kidding, a single guy’s office. I spent an hour going through the “Appleton” folder, and most of the information wasn’t even really marked well. Like there would be a tremendously important obituary that I needed to use, and it would just be “Max Goldberg died on June 21.” Occasionally there would be a year scribbled on the top, but no indication about what paper it was in or what. This makes a bibliography somewhat difficult. Which is why mine has a note at the top saying where I got the material and basically apologizing for the one citation that is literally, “Wisconsin Jewish Communities Archives: Obituaries.” And by “obituaries” I mean all the loose obituaries shoved in that folder.
Yeah. That was a good couple of hours.
I mostly wrote about the orthodox synagogue in Appleton, though. And oh! Can I tell you lots of worthless crap about Moses Montefiore Congregation.
One of the most valuable pieces I found was a dedication booklet from the new synagogue building in 1972. And wow, that is an ugly building.
So in my paper there’s a sentence about how “the interior typifies American liturgical architecture from the late twentieth century.”
Which is a really nice why yes, I am an art history minor way of saying, “Looks just like every ugly ’70s-era Catholic church I’ve been in.”
Also in that booklet is a biography of the visiting rabbi. Who came along with his married daughter, seventeen-year-old son, and TWO-YEAR-OLD. And his presumably exhausted and very surprised wife.
Finally, I wrote a lot about the fundraising that they did in order to build the first building in 1923 and then the second one in 1972. And I’m not even going to lie, I had to redo the whole first draft and make it sound less Catholic because I kept writing, “stewardship appeal.” Meh. Whatever. The guy grading it is a Gentile. (And thinks I’m an “outstanding women.”)
My cultural screens. Let me show you them.