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Hebrew Union volunteers Rebecca Barrett, Pat Kline, and Phil Kline, preparing take-out orders for the annual deli luncheon.(Philip Graitcer)

Half a century ago, the Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville, Miss., was the state’s largest synagogue; its sanctuary overflowed during the High Holidays, attracting worshipers from the city and surrounding communities. But many children of those earlier congregants have moved away, and by 2000, the temple dismissed its full-time rabbi. One tradition, though, has held on: Hebrew Union’s annual deli luncheon, a fundraiser for the Temple Sisterhood and a much-anticipated event for both the Jews and non-Jews of Greenville. (In 2009, 1,400 corned beef sandwiches were served.) Reporter Philip Graitcer attended this year’s luncheon earlier this month and filed this dispatch from a tradition that might not endure. [Running time: 7:50.] 





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