The best stories are often the ones that go wrong. I didn’t come to Mississippi to bury the Jews of the Delta. I did come to mourn them. But stories don’t always turn out how you think.
There was a good slice of ‘who-d’a-thunk-it’ to the trip – Jews in the Mississippi Delta? One community in Mississippi has 15 - people, not families, and the other has nine. Their children moved away.
I heard lonely synagogues and soulful singing and wise thoughtful people saying wise, thoughtful, sad things. It would be great and I might get a chance to go back to my favourite fried chicken place in the world, the Two Sisters, in Jackson.
I got the thoughtful wise people saying thoughtful wise things. And I got the fried chicken. And I got a wandering rabbi with a guitar and seriously pumped arms. But the sadness didn’t really pan out.
It’s always a bit scary when your central narrative - sadness and loss - goes out the window as early as it did with this story. But then few battle plans survive contact with the enemy.
The truth is a long, long way from what I thought it would be when I planned the trip. But it really was the best kind of story.
- Jonny Dymond, Mississippi
Read Jonny’s story and listen to the radio piece on the podcast of Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme (begins at 23:48)
(Pictures courtesy of the Institute of Southern Jewish Life and Getty Images)