Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women's Legacy Archive: Jewish American oral histories

Jewish oral history project, ACCN 1629

The Jewish oral history project (1972-1977) was conducted by the American West Center and consists of a series of interviews between 1972 and 1977 with local Jewish Americans concerning life in Utah.

Mrs. Bernstein (b. 1907), who was born in Vernal, recalls family stories of journeys from Russia and Manchuria, family life in Vernal, orthodox traditions at home, the move to Salt Lake City, and her experiences in the public school system. She also speaks of the family grocery store, living as a minority, politics, the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, congregation Montefiore and the bar mitzvah of various family members.

Mrs. Crutcher (b. 1907) tells stories passed on to her of family life in Lithuania and of emigration to the United States. She recalls growing up in the Mormon community of Tooele and talks about her first encounter with discrimination in New York City. Also covered are her education and career, descriptions of family members, and the political career of her father, Solomon Joseph Selvin.

Mrs. Landa (b. 1912) recalls various places in Salt Lake City that she lived in as a child, Wasatch elementary school, Jewish friends and congregations, family business, attending Uintah elementary, high school and Mills College, family gatherings, and involvement in civic affairs. She details the Rosenblatt family tree.

Mrs. Pomerance (b. 1888) was born in Russia. She discusses the small Jewish community in Salt Lake City, speaking Yiddish, congregation Montefiore, the location of Jewish homes and businesses in Salt Lake, Shaare Tzedek, the ladies' auxillary known as Talmud-Torah, outings at Lagoon and Saltair, the emigration of her husband's family, synagogue services, and her education.

Mrs. Siegel (b. 1907) relates how her parents emigrated from Russia to New York City in 1904, and from there to Utah. She recalls living in several small towns in Central Utah, and talks about her father's stores in Gunnison and Richfield, the move to Salt Lake, Jewish friends in Salt Lake in the 1920s, Jewish community organizations, and attending college at Berkeley.

Mrs. Steres (b. 1898) recalls life in Czarist Russia and talks about her father's emigration in 1902, about emigrating through Ellis Island with her mother and siblings in 1905, life in Vernal, the move to Salt Lake City in 1914, holidays, Jewish congregations, and people in Salt Lake.

Mrs. Wells recalls the life of Samuel Newhouse, including his mining interests, the McCune railroads, his business buildings, and his eventual bankruptcy. She also recalls Ida Newhouse, her life in English court society, her jewels, and her home on South Temple.


Interviews with Jews in Utah collection, ACCN 0998

The interviews with Jews in Utah collection [transcripts] (1982-1988) is part of a project funded by the Utah Endowment for the Humanities and undertaken by the Oral History Institute of Salt Lake City, Utah. Events recalled by the interviewees span the time period from the 1880s to 1986. Common themes include family life, immigration, relations with the LDS community, religious activity, the unification of the congregations Montefiore and B'nai Israel, Jewish businesses and organizations, and World War II.

Sadie Appleman (b. 1899) discusses her activities as a young woman in Salt Lake, her independence, and her involvement in religious activities. She also talks about Jewish-owned businesses in Salt Lake, keeping a kosher home, and the unification of Congregations Montefiore and B'nai Israel.

Rose Leibowitz Arnovitz

Interviewed by Leslie Kelen, Rose Leibowitz (b. 1908) talks about her parents' lives in Rumania, their coming to America, her father's experiences in the egg and grocery businesses, her childhood, and Jewish rituals practiced in the home. She also remembers her involvement in various organizations in Salt Lake City, including the Talmud Torah ladies, B'nai B'rith, the Traveler's Aid Society, United Way, the Welfare Fund drive, and the Jewish Relief Society (which became the Jewish Family Service). Other topics covered include the differences between the B'nai Israel and Montefiore congregations, the social "clique-isness" of the women in the Jewish community, Rabbi Cardin, the high holy days, some of the people who were "bulwarks" of the Montefiore Congregation, and Zionism. She also recalls some of the locl scandals, the anit-Semitic situation in Salt Lake schools, and the younger generation of Jewish people moving away from Salt Lake. Finally, she speaks of her involvement in Hadassah, Youth Alleyah, fund raising, blue box luncheons, USO, the Jewish Relief Society, and help Jewish soldiers during World War II.

Bernice Frank Bernstein

This interview was conducted by Joyce Kelen. Mrs. Bernstein (b. 1913) talks about her parents' life in Russia, their views as young radicals, and their emigration from Russia to the United States. She discusses the tensions between Russian and German Jews in th 1920s, and details her family's situation during the Depression. She also remembers the tensions between B'nai Israel and Montefiore, World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt, her involvement in B'nai Israel, the Jewish Family Service, and her work as a social worker.

Alberta Freshman

Two interviews were conducted by Leslie Kelen. In the first interview, Alberta Freshman (b. 1907) recalls her childhood in Salt Lake City and New York, and discusses becoming an elementary school teacher. In the second interview, she talks about her family background, the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Adolph Hitler. She also remembers various minority groups in Salt Lake City and speaks of the changes she has seen take place in education over the course of her 46 years as a teacher.

Doris Neiditch Guss

Doris Guss (b. 1909) grew up in Idaho and Ogden, Utah. She talks about the Jewish community in Ogden and mentions the synagogue, BethShalom. She also speaks of her husband, Samuel, and his recent death of cancer. 

Esther Kline

Lorraine Ferra conducted two interviews with Esther Kline (b. 1906), who talks about growing up in Salt Lake city, including her memories of Pioneer Day, local businesses, Kaplan (the local kosher butcher), the Bamberger Railroad, and her father's work as a junk peddler. She also talks about some of the early distinctions between the congregations B'nai Israel, Monefiore, and Shaary Tzedick. The transcript for this interview may not be complete.

Esther Landa

In her interviews with Leslie Kelen, Esther Landa (b. 1912) talks about her childhood, her parents and grandparents, going to school at Mills College during the Depression, and working for a school in public relations. She also speaks of her memories of Jewish refuges in Salt Lake before World War II. She discusses the involvement of her father and grandfather in the Utah Junk Company and in the Eastern Iron and Metal Company (EIMCO). Also included are descriptions of her involvement in community affairs and her thoughts on resentments and tensions between two groups of Jews in Utah.

Betsy Anne Bamberger Lesser

Betsy Lesser (b. 1922) tells Leslie Kelen about her childhood, and about her grandfather, Utah Governor Simon Bamberger. She recalls her memories of Mills College, World War II, the night of VJ Day, the Bamburger Railroad, Utah Coal Company, and the tensions between German Jews and other ethnic Jews. She also talks about segregation as she remembers it. She tells stories about family members, remembers going to high school at Rowland Hall, and talks about first hearing Hitler on the radio. Other topics include her father, Lagoon, ethnic groups in Salt Lake City, the community response to World War II, changes she has seen in Salt Lake, and her memories of International House at the University of California at Berkeley.

Joanne Spitzer McGillis

In this interview, conducted by Lorraine Ferra, McGillis (b. 1932) recalls her childhood in Sandy, Utah, her socialist grandfather, and local scandal involving Rabbi Gordon. She also talks about the differences between congregations Montefiore and B'nai Israel, her family's response to Hitler and World War II, anti-Semitism in her grade school, discrimination in the community, and her sense of Jewish identity.

Rose Guss Nord

This folder contains two interviews conducted by Joyce Kelen. Nord (b. 1906) talks about her family, living in New York during the 1920s and 1930s, meeting her husband, raising children, and moving to Salt Lake City, where she took orders from the community for kosher meat which was shipped into her home from Denver. She also discusses some of the organizations with which she was affiliated, her Polish grandparents, and her own childhood in Russia and Europe. She talks about helping feed soldiers in Salt Lake City during World War II, war refugees, and the role of women in the Jewish community. She discusses the Talmud Torah Ladies and the B'nai B'rith sisterhood.

Sonia Pepper

In this interview with Leslie Kelen, Rose Arnovitz is present, as indicated by the initials RA. Sonia Pepper begins by discussing her parents, childhood, education, and work as a young adult. She also talks about collecting for the Jewish Relief Society, the inner workings of that group, the Jewish community in Salt Lake, being involved of the remodeling of Montefiore, and the role of women in the Jewish community. Pepper and Rose talk about the merger of the congregations, the James L. White Jewish Community Center, the United Fund, their social lives, other community members, and programs helping transients. 

Sophie Fox Rosenthal

Rosenthal (b. 1894) details her background and that of her husband. She also talks about jobs held by her and her husband, places they lived, the Depression, the Jewish community in Salt Lake City, World War II, anti-Semitism, working for Makoff's, and keeping kosher.

Helen Sandack

In this interview with Lorraine Ferra, Sandack (b. 1917), describes her family background in Russia and recalls anti-Semitism, her experiences at work, her mother, growing up in an observant household, and the Jewish community in Salt Lake City. Other topics include Hitler and World War II, stereotypes, and the theater. 

Cecelia Siegal

Siegal (b. 1910) talks about her father's business, the American Fur company, and discusses the Jewish community in Salt Lake. Other topics covered include the celebration of Jewish holidays, her husband's ROTC experiences, Hitler, World War II, the Mormon community, and B'nai B'rith.

Eva Frank Siegal

Eve Frank Siegal (b. 1906) recounts stories of her parents and their emigration to the United States from Russia. She discusses growing up in Nephi, Utah, and talks about The Ladies Shop, a family-owned business. Other topics include social life in the Jewish community, Hitler and World War II, and changes in the Jewish community in her lifetime.

Harry Smith and Marjorie Siegal Smith

Harry (b. 1912) talks about his family background, schooling, religion, and working on a chicken farm in the Depression. Marjorie (b. 1918) also describes her family and growing up during the Depression. She also talks about her education, getting married, her husband's chicken farm, and the local Jewish community.

Corrine Heller Sweet

In these interviews, conducted by Joyce and Leslie Kelen, Sweet (b. 1914) details her family background and recalls her childhood and education. She discusses the role of women in the Jewish community, conflict between Russian and German Jews, keeping kosher, the interaction between the Jewish and Mormon communities, World War II, Zionism, the Depression, and the general response to World War II in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sade Bernstein Tannenbaum

In a series of three interviews, Sade Tannenbaum tells Joyce Kelen about her family background in Poland and her immigration to the United States at the age of five. She describes her childhood, various jobs she has held, Mormon attempts to convert her, and the differences between the two Jewish congregations in Salt Lake City. Other topics covered include farmily members, keeping kosher, Jewish communities in Kansas City and Denver, her service in the task of preparing the dead for burial, Shaary Tzedick, life in Salt Lake City, and Zionism.

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