THE ICON: Jacob S. Solis
THE LEGACY: The year was 1828, and Jacob Solis just wanted some matzo. The problem was that after nearly a century of France’s Code Noir — which outlawed any other religion but Catholicism in its colonies — New Orleans was what has been described as “a Jewish desert.” Solis decided to do something about that. With the transfer of the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803, and Code Noir thus no longer the law of the land, Solis set about establishing Shaarai Chesed — or Congregation Gates of Mercy — on North Rampart Street. It had just 33 founding members, but it was a start. Not only was it the first chartered Jewish congregation in the city but the first outside the original 13 colonies, the sixth-oldest synagogue in the country and, most importantly, a launching pad for what is today a thriving Jewish community in New Orleans.
THE ARTIST: Michael McManus
THE INSPIRATION: “One of the things that I appreciated about him was that he was always there as a support system. He would never get in the way of what you were doing. Especially on ballads, he would play beautiful lines to enhance whatever emotion you were trying to get across.” — singer and frequent Tyler collaborator Germaine Bazzle, upon Tyler’s 1998 death