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Bess Fishman

“On Shabbes, you always had your nicest dishes and your nicest silver. You didn't think about it as special. It was just something that you did. To this day, every Shabbes, I put my cloth on and light my candles even if I'm alone. It sounds silly, but that's what I do.” – Bess Fishman

Born in 1909 in East Baltimore, Bess Fishman's life has been shaped by family businesses, working first in her parents' grocery store and later with her husband. Steeped in her father's Zionism, Bess attended Hebrew school five days a week and had to complete her secular studies in night classes at Baltimore's City College after she left Eastern High School to care for her ailing father. After a whirlwind courtship in 1932, Bess married Al Fishman, a widower nine years her senior who had a young daughter, Eleanor. Bess and Al had two sons, Nelson and David, and their home became a center for festive family and holiday gatherings. Bess worked with Al in their sewing thread business, originally located on the first floor of their East Baltimore Street home. The business expanded and prospered through the years, adapting to the needs of the consumer and the times. After Al's death, Bess married Sam Savitz in 1983. On the board of Beth Tfiloh Congregation for over 50 years, Bess has served in a variety of leadership positions and acted as volunteer historian and archivist for its 60th anniversary celebration.

Bess Fishman
Full image

Bess Fishman
Photo courtesy of Joan Roth.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Bess Fishman." (Viewed on December 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/communitystories/baltimore/narrators/fishman-bess>.

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