Born early in the twentieth century, our narrators lived through decades of political, social and economic upheaval, as well as dramatic changes in expectations for women and Jews. Doctors and lawyers, homemakers and saleswomen, our narrators reflect the astonishing diversity that characterized the lives of this pivotal generation of Jewish women.
The first Jewish woman elected to the Maryland State Senate, Rosalie Silber Abrams was an energetic and activist legislator who oversaw the passage of nearly 300 bills during her seventeen-year career in the Maryland General Assembly.
Known by presidents and prime ministers, Shoshana Shoubin Cardin has achieved iconic status in the world of international Jewish diplomacy. The daughter of chalutzim (pioneers), Shoshana was born in 1926 in Palestine and came to the United States a year later. Raised in a committed Zionist family, Shoshana was an avid student who excelled in both Jewish and general studies.
Rose married Moses J. Cohen in 1937 and took a hiatus from teaching after the birth of their three children, Rachel, Sylvia, and Louis. She later served as principal of Beth Yehuda's Hebrew School and taught at Beth Israel Congregation before retiring from Jewish education in 1970. Rose worked as a secretary for the Baltimore City Public Schools and continues to be active in numerous communal organizations, including the Jewish Museum of Maryland and B'nai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation.
Born in 1921 to Baltimore's Hoffberger family, Lois Blum Feinblatt has focused her professional career, volunteer efforts and philanthropy on providing mental health, adoption and mentoring services in Baltimore.
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.
She later earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland School of Social Work and focused her work life on alternative educational institutions for girls. Clem's passion for learning continues in her retirement, and she is currently working on writing several books.
She moved to Baltimore after marrying Jack Lederkremer, a salesman, also from Poland. Although she had no children of her own, Nina nurtured generations of students at Chizuk Amuno Congregation by pouring her passion for Judaism and teaching into their lives.
After the devastating loss of her husband, Elsie created a new life for herself, becoming the chief buyer for Miller Brothers, her family's women's clothing business. A unique family trust established by her parents ensures extended family presence at Passover seders, Hanukkah celebrations and an annual vacation/reunion.
Ruth Surosky Levy was passionate about her family and her Judaism. She was born in 1922, just 1 year after her Russian immigrant parents settled in West Baltimore. During her childhood, Ruth's mother convened meetings of the Zionist group, Pioneer Women, in the family's store, Surosky's Butcher Shop. Having absorbed her family's dedication to Zionism, Ruth was involved in Zionist schools, camps, and organizations throughout her life.
A devoted mother and wife and an influential saleswoman, Selma Litman was born in 1917. Although her father, one of the few Jews in Russia to have gotten a college education, died when she was just 20 months old, Selma was raised on stories that her mother and siblings regularly shared about him.
A fixture at two of Baltimore's best-known and beloved restaurants, Minna Shavitz was influenced by the strong role model of her working mother, who owned and operated a dry goods store in Georgia with her father.
In 1963, Vivienne Shub helped to create Center Stage, bringing a regional professional repertory theater to Baltimore. In the 1970s, she and her husband took up residency at Goucher College, sharing their expertise in music and theater. She has also enjoyed a long teaching career at Towson University, appeared in numerous films, and serves as president of the Baltimore Theater Alliance.
Frances Berman Sulsky, born in New York in 1910, was known for over half a century as Baltimore's leading milliner and trendsetter. She took chances in the retail world of women's fashion that distinguished her both as a merchandiser and a businesswoman.
Laurie Schwab Zabin's interest in reproductive health began in a volunteer capacity and then led to a distinguished professional career at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Narrators." (Viewed on January 20, 2019) <https://jwa.org/communitystories/baltimore/narrators>.