D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections and University Archives

Jewish Heritage in Western North Carolina Oral History Collection
OH-JHWNC

Summary Information

Repository
UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives
Title
Jewish Heritage in Western North Carolina Oral History Collection
ID
OH-JHWNC
Date [inclusive]
1988-2013
Extent
1.1 Linear feet  ; 1 box
Physical Description
Audio and/or video cassettes of interviews/presentations, and copies of these on CD or DVD. Transcripts of interviews, and any supplementary materials, are described within each individual oral history as appropriate. Some recording have gaps and/or inaudible sections.
Location
Located in Special Collections row 3, section 1
Language
English

Preferred Citation

[Title of Interview], Jewish Heritage in Western North Carolina Oral History Collection, D. H. Ramsey Library Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville

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Scope and Contents

A collection of oral histories describing the Jewish heritage of the southern United States, particularly western North Carolina and Asheville. The histories fall into three sub-collections:

1. Recordings of presentations made at, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988. These recordings cannot be copied, and, as the title of conference indicates, do not specifically focus on western North Carolina.

2. Histories recorded by David Schulman in early 1994, for the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville. Schulman stated that the emphasis "as to gain a social history of the Jewish experience in Western North Carolina, not so much dates and absolute facts as to what was that person's 'take' on living here. Some interviewees were born here, some not. For those that were not, I asked for their first images of what is was like when they came, why they came, and what has been their experience since......I wanted to know where the interviewees lived, who were their friends and neighbors and how did they interact socially, etc." Transcripts are available for most of these interviews.

3. Two interviews recorded by Sharon Fahrer [from the Asheville non-profit, History @ Hand]

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

UNC Asheville Special Collections and University Archives

Ramsey Library, CPO # 1500
One University Heights
Asheville, North Carolina, 28804-8504
828.251.6645
speccoll@unca.edu

Rights

Some restrictions as noted for specific interviews. Any display, publication, or public use must credit the D.H. Ramsey Library, Special Collections, University of North Carolina at Asheville. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Creator

Centre for Jewish Studies, UNC Asheville ; Interviewers and interviewees as noted

Processing Information

Originally processed by unidentified Special Collections staff. New finding aid by Colin Reeve, August 2016

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Collection Inventory

Helen Benninga 

Interview Date and Interviewer

February 3, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Helen Benninga shares her various experiences of escaping from Holland, living in London during World War II, and how she ended up in Asheville and her time as a member of the local Jewish community, in particular within the Beth Israel Synagogue. Of particular interest is her brief account of two years spent in an internment camp run by the Japanese in West Australia. She discusses at length the advantages and disadvantages of living in Israel as opposed to America. Many people referenced in her account can be located in photographs in the Congregation Beth Israel collection.

Biographical Note

Helen Benninga was born in Holland. She traveled extensively while escaping the terrors of World War II and was in an internment camp in West Australia under the Japanese occupation before ending up in Asheville, where she became an integral part of the Jewish community. As of interview she planned to move from Asheville to Israel to live the rest of her life.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Leo Finklestein 

Interview Date and Interviewer

February 10, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; copy CD ; text

Scope and Contents

Leo Finkelstein recounts a series of anecdotes about people and events in Asheville, NC., including, "the poker game", "the desperado [Will Harris]", and "Dudley Pelley". "My life in the service", typed WWII diary of Finkelstein

Biographic Note

Leo Finkelstein's father came to Asheville in 1903, and Leo was born in 1905, on Ashland Avenue. He attended an area grammar school and was in the 1922 class of what is now Asheville High School. As a schoolboy, he sold newspapers and worked in his father's pawn shop for fifty cents a week. He eventually took over the business, and was successful during the depression when other businesses failed. During World War II he served in the South Pacific. He was head of the Jewish Aid Society, and was active in the Lions Club, playing the piano in the Lions Club band which called itself the Sanctimonious Seven or the Unholy Six. He belonged to both Asheville Synagogues, and was the first treasurer for the Jewish Community Center on Charlotte Street. He started writing when he retired, and remained active in the Asheville Lions Club.

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Sylvia Fishman 

Date of Recording

April 17, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

American Jewish Women and the World of Work - Sylvia Fishman speaks about working Jewish women and the social policy implications for the Jewish community resulting from the increase in education and professional opportunities for Jewish women since the time of mass immigration around the turn of the century. Most data revolves around Jewish women in the Baltimore area.

Historical Note

Sylvia Fishman was a professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, and co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied.

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Sarah Goldstein 

Interview Date and Interviewer

March 4, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Content

Sarah Goldstein begins by discussing how she helped create the Asheville Jewish Community Center, and how soldiers from Camp Croft were hosted there. She describes the time when William Dudley Pelley was located in Asheville and how he was "kicked out" of the city. Goldstein recalls in fair detail who operated what business and when, and the end of her interview consists her of remembering the climate which fostered camaraderie amongst the Jewish community. There is little of Goldstein's personal biographical history in the interview.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Robert Katz 

Date of Recording

April 16, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

The Diaspora Project: A Multi Media Artwork - Robert Katz presents photographs from past personal artistic projects relating to Jewish themes, concluding with "The Diaspora Project."

Historical Note

Robert Katz was professor of art at the University of Maine at Augusta. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Anne Michelove Kolodkin 

Interview Date and Interviewer

March 22, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Anne Michelove Kolodkin goes into very deep explanation of the Michelove family tree and history. Her memories of various Jewish families in and around Asheville is very acute and for much of the interview she recalls different familial connections. She also speaks specifically to who owned what businesses in Asheville. and talks expansively about the Hanoka Club, which Kolodkin help start.

Biographical Note

Anne Michelove Kolodkin has lived in Western North Carolina for her entire life, mainly in Brevard and Hendersonville. Her blood and legal relations are all major Jewish presences in the area.

Additional Materials

Transcript

Related Collections

Ed Petterson and Anne Kolodkin oral history in this collection

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Stanley Levine 

Date of Recording

April 16, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

Literature and the Rural Jewish Experience: I.J. Schwartz's Kentucky and Roger Ikor's Les Eaux Mêlées - Stanley Levine discusses two pieces of literature pertaining to rural Jewish life, the French novel Eaux Mêlées and the narrative poem Kentucky. Levine's discussion places particular focus on plant life imagery.

Historical Note

Stanley Levine was professor emeritus of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of South Carolina Aiken. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Isaac Jack Levy 

Date of Recording

April 17, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

Laughter: A Sephardic Way of Survival - Isaac Jack Levy discusses the way humor permeates life, and the importance of humor among the outwardly serious Sephardim.

Historical Note

Isaac Jack Levy was professor emeritus of Spanish Language and Literature at the University of South Carolina Columbia and a founder of the American Society of Sephardic Studies. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Joseph Lichtenfels 

Interview Date and Interviewer

April 25, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text ; copy of photograph

Scope and Contents

Joseph Lichtenfels gives an in-depth account of lineage, and discusses how his mother and father were "very reform" despite their both being raised in the orthodox tradition, and how he was educated prior to his barmitzvah. Mr. Lichtenfels then describes his father Gustav's history and how he came to settle in Asheville. He talks about hitchhiking from Asheville along the East coast visiting relatives in Baltimore, New York, and Maine, and the differences in racism and other world views between the North and South. He speaks extensively on how his career evolved.

Biographical Note

Joseph Lichtenfels was born in Asheville in 1915 , his paternal family having emigrated to the US from Germany in 1886. After working briefly in a cotton mill, Lichtenfels moved to New York, and worked as a photographer He later returned to Asheville, where he was a key member of the Jewish community.

Additional Materials

Transcript ; insurance statement for Anna Sternberg ; photograph of the "Canasta Girls", 1957

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Carolyn Lipson-Walker 

Date of Recording

April 16, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

"Shalom Y'all": The Folklore and Culture of Southern Jews - Carolyn Lipson-Walker discusses the findings of an ethnographic study of the disparate population of Jews in the South, examining in particular what makes a cohesive culture of Southern Jews.

Historical Note

Carolyn Lipson-Walker was professor of Jewish Folklore and American Jewish Culture and Assistant Director of Jewish Studies at Indiana University. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Ruth Lowenburg 

Interview Date and Interviewer

April 19, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; copy CD ; text

Scope and Contents

Ruth Lowenburg begins with a fairly detailed account of how her husband's family came to settle in Asheville, with an emphasis on his grandfather. She also talks about meeting her husband, eloping with him, and subsequently moving to Asheville. There is a detailed history of the businesses she and her husband had worked with, especially developing The Manor, a local retirement home, and the Jewish culture that existed in Asheville.

Biographical Note

Ruth Lowenburg, a native of New York City, became a formidable businesswoman in the Asheville area with her husband David Lowenburg as her partner. After taking control of and selling a succession of stores and finally the retirement home, The Manor, she and David retired to Florida.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Estelle Marder 

Interview Date and Interviewer

March 30, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Text

Scope and Contents

Estelle Marder describes her family and how they were when they moved from New York City to Asheville. She talks about the role of the Asheville Jewish Community Center's, the Jewish community, and how the families were connected.

NOTE: No audio recording exists

Biographical Note

Estelle Marder moved to Asheville from New York City, with her family and her brother-in-law's family in the summer of 1939. Immediately upon their arrival they joined the temple, and she became a very active member of not just the Jewish community, but the whole of Asheville.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Panel Discussion 

Date of Recording

April 17, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

Jewish women including Ileana Grams-Moog, Stephanie Cooper, Alyssa Fine, and others describe their professional work experiences.

Historical Note

The discussion was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Ed Petterson and Anne Kolodkin 

Interview Date and Interviewer

March 22, 1993 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

The interview features Ed Petterson and Ann Kolodkin. Petterson talks about the cross-cultural difficulties his family faced when settling in America, specifically those concerning the language barrier, and how the family dealt with immigration and their various moves around the United States. Kolodkin describes the Michalove family (her maiden name) history. The couple describe the Jewish families and culture that existed in Asheville during the 20s and 30s, and that which existed at the time of the interview.

Biographic Note

Ed Petterson is a first-generation immigrant. He attended the University of North Carolina and is married to Doris Petterson. Ann Kolodkin is a member of the Michalove family.

Additional Materials

Transcript

Related Collections

Anne Michelove Kolodkin oral history in this collection

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Helen Pozner 

Interview Date and Interviewer

March 10, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Helen Pozner begins her history by discussing her mother before talking about the early years of her marriage and how she and husband George came to settle in Asheville. Pozner speaks about her experience managing the Dunbar apartments. She talks about the Asheville Jewish Community Center, and the different ways the community was divided, united and supported each other. At the end of the interview Pozner talks about her husband attending Asheville-Biltmore College when it was located at Seely's Castle.

Biographic Note

Helen Pozner was born in Chelsea, MA, a first-generation Polish immigrant. After living in New Orleans, and Arlington, VA, she and her husband moved to Asheville in the early 1950s. In Asheville, Pozner managed the Dunbar apartments for a number of years, and was a member of the temple.

Additional Materials

Transcript

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Gerald Rubin 

Date of Recording

April 16, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

Cognitive Dissonance and Jewish Assimilation in the South - Gerald Rubin examines examines cognitive dissonance theory as a framework for issues and problems of Jewish assimilation in the South.

Historical Note

Gerald Rubin was professor of psychology at Central Virginia Community College. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Deborah and Jack Schandler 

Interview Date and Interviewer

March 2004 ; Sharon Fahrer

Format

VHC-C video cassette tape ; DVD

Scope and Contents

Jack and Deborah Schandler describe growing up in the Jewish communities of western North Carolina during the 1920's and 1930's, the businesses their parents owned, and how they met.

Biographical Note

Jack Schandler was born in Asheville. He was the son of David Schandler who came to Asheville from New York City in 1906, and opened a cigar store and a handkerchief factory that became the Oak Street Cash Store. The store stood where the annex to the First Baptist Church is located today, and the upper floor of the building was also the home of the early Schandlers. Jack Schandler graduated from N.C. State University, and worked in the textile industry for many years, living in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, He died on October 25, 2006 in Greensboro, N.C.

Deborah Longren Schandler was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina in September 1920. When she was four, her parents moved to Marian, North Carolina where her parents ran a store. She later lived in Hendersonville, and Greensboro, and married Jack Schandler in 1943. Sol Schulman was her uncle.

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Sidney Schochet 

Interview Date and Interviewer

April 10, 1994 ; David Schulman

Format

Audio cassette tape ; text

Scope and Contents

Sidney Schochet outlines his family history and gives a detailed account of the Jewish business community in Asheville during the late 1920s and early 1930s, and how the Great Depression impacted the town. He discusses the rabbis he knew, and describes how and why the orthodox and reform communities were split. He talks about Thomas Wolfe's relationship to the Jewish community, and Asheville as a whole.

Biographic Note

Sidney Schochet was born and raised in Asheville, NC. His family was deeply involved in the business community, and he operated the Star Bootery, formerly the Star Store.

Additional Materials

Transcript

Related Collections

Sidney Schochet Oral History, in WWII Mountain Memories

Sidney Schochet Family Papers

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Sylvia Straus 

Format

CDs

Interview Date and Interviewer

April 2, 2013 ; Sharon Fahrer

Scope and Contents

Sylvia Straus talks her early life in Asheville, living in New York, her marriage to Karl Straus, their social involvement, and her knowledge of Asheville's Jewish history. She talks about Karl being an avid runner and tennis player, and how his devotion to donor relations and development for UNCA during his time on the Board of Trustees, and the Board of Directors of the UNCA Foundation, led to the naming of the UNCA track in his honor.

Biographical Note

Sylvia Patla was born in Charleston, SC in 1922. Her father's family is from Charleston and her mother's family is from Hendersonville. Her family moved to Hendersonville, NC two years later, shortly after her sister Doris was born. Her father was a successful lawyer in Charleston, in Asheville, NC partnered to create a law practice called Weaver & Patla. Her family belonged to the Jewish Temple (Beth Ha-Tephila). After graduating from high school, Sylvia attended secretarial college in Greensboro, and went on to work several places as a secretary and bookkeeper, including the Ecusta plant in Brevard, NC. It was here where she met Karl Straus, whose uncle owned Ecusta, as he trained her as his replacement when he was promoted. After living in New York for several years, Sylvia reconnected with Karl. They were married in 1952 and had three children. They settled in Asheville, NC.

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Theodore Weinberger 

Date of Recording

April 16, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

The Yankee and the Jewish Peddler in the antebellum South - Theodore Weinberger discusses the Jewish peddlers of the Antebellum period, variously regarded as itinerant merchants or dishonest scoundrels.

Historical Note

Theodore Weinberger was a graduate student with the Jewish Studies program at Emory University. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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Lee Shai Weissbach 

Recording Date

April 16, 1988

Format

Audio cassette tape

Scope and Contents

Lee Shai Weissbach presents a paper on the growth of American Jewish populations during the 19th and early 20th centuries in which he explores the historical geography of Jewish life in the South and examines current knowledge about early Jewish communities.

Historical Note

Lee Shai Weissbach was professor of history at the University of Louisville. The presentation was part of, "Jewish Culture in the South: Past, Present, and Future," a conference presented by the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, on April 15-17, 1988.

Restrictions

Cannot be copied

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