September 10, 2013

Retired Professor Announces Book Publication

Dr. Louis Schmier, retired history professor at Valdosta State University, recently announced the publication of his book Chant of Ages; Cry of Cotton. The non-fiction book provides a look at the beginnings of the Jewish community in South Georgia.

“The beginnings of the contemporary Jewish community in Valdosta starts with the arrival of two Jewish confederate veterans, Abraham Ehrlich and Benjamin Kaul, in 1866 and ends with the formal establishment of the present-day congregation in 1908,” said Schmier. “It is a very warm, personal tale of real people that fleshes out the sterile charts, statistics and sweeping generalizations found in history books.”

Schmier stated that the book reveals a “kinder Georgia”, despite the stigma of racism associated with the South and Georgia.

“Here is an unexpected Jewish community in south Georgia that is alive and thriving to this present day and that says a lot about Valdosta and the area,” said Schmier. We will follow their courageous, though cautious, urge to "merge" and their "longing to belong. It would be easy to say that this book is about being Jewish.  Yes, the story revolves around these particular Jews.  Yet in their extraordinary transformation into becoming ‘Jewish-Georgians,’ you will see a more humane Georgia, a more culturally diverse Georgia…”

When writing the book, Schmier sought to nullify certain generalizations about the area. 

“This is a book of the heart as well of the mind,” said Schmier. “I want the reader to experience it, not just read it.”

Chant of Ages; Cry of Cotton can be purchased online at . Schmier plans to donate 15 percent of royalties for each book purchased with "VSU" written in the order comment box, to the VSU Foundation.

Schmier retired from VSU in May after 45 years of service. His recently published book is the first of seven on the early history of Valdosta’s Jewish community.

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