On October 14, 2022, Weldon Baptist co-sponsored and hosted in its Daniel Fellowship Hall a special event honoring the town and area's once-thriving Jewish community.
Serving also as a reunion for over ten former members of the local and regional Jewish community who now live elsewhere, the historic gathering featured guest speaker Dr. Leonard Rogoff. He gave a 75-minute PowerPoint presentation that included mostly archival photos. Rogoff serves as the president of the Durham-based Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina and is the author of A History of Temple Emanu-El [Weldon]: An Extended Family (2007, available for free online at Duke Divinity School Library's DivinityArchive.com) and Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina (2010).
Though a minority in the Protestant Bible Belt, the reunited Jewish guests then gave personal testimony of their appreciation for the local and regional community that warmly accepted them and their ancestors, many of whom owned successful businesses. Before and after the talk and testimony time Kosher and other food was provided by Weldon Baptist's Hospitality Team and community volunteers.
Originally coming from such places as Lithuania, Poland and Russia in the 1890's and early 1900's, the Jewish community in Weldon and nearby Roanoke Rapids and Emporia, Virginia, survived and thrived for 115 years, until the early 2000s. The well-respected Jewish historian-author Rogoff spoke on "Weldon's Jews: Where Did They Come From? Where Did They Go?" Though sold in 2005, the Temple Emanu-El building is just one block from Weldon Baptist. During their pre-1990 peak membership years the two religious entities had a friendly and cooperative relationship.
The over forty attendees came from eastern and western North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia and Washington, D.C. After the event, the local newspaper The Herald published a lengthy front-page cover story and Rogoff wrote an online blog post entitled "A Homecoming in Weldon" (see JewishNC.org/a-homecoming-in-weldon).
The occasion served as the inaugural event for co-sponsor Weldon In Action's "Weldon Heritage Speaker Series." Formed in 2021, WIA is a non-profit devoted to town revitalization. From August to December 2022, Weldon Baptist hosted WIA's monthly meetings.
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