The Deep South is astonishingly lovely in the heady days of mid-spring. In the quiet corners of rural Mississippi, the droning hum of tractors and bees provides a lazy soundtrack for a lush green landscape of flower-dotted fields and gently swishing trees in full blossom.
The pretty byways of this sleepy region are ideal for exploring in May and June, a time of warm, magnolia-scented afternoons and temperate evenings before the sticky days of summer. Much of this state — among the nation’s poorest, by a variety of measures — has the feel of a bygone era. Time has effectively stood still along these winding country roads, in the small towns where progress long ago passed Main Street by, and in the provincial city downtowns, where sidewalks are still and sleepy in the heat of midday.
But history, including Jewish history, is more alive than ever. In the cradle of the Old South and the civil rights movement, the Jewish visitor can enjoy a road trip from the capital of Jackson to several nearby sites of Jewish interest, tracing the story of Jewish life through years of boom and bust, migration and abandonment. Mississippi is home to several campuses of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (MSJE), though few Jews live here anymore; the decline of local industry sent the children of Main Street merchants to professional centers like Atlanta, Washington and Dallas.
On a road trip up from New Orleans or down from Jackson, Natchez, Miss., is an ideal stop. Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River at its most serene and picturesque, this is the kind of town that makes you feel like a