Oral History Collection

The Nicki Newman Tanner

Oral History Collection

As part of JWA’s mission to expand the narrative of Jewish history, we have collected and recorded hundreds of interviews with leaders, activists, and community members across the United States, documenting their encounters with major events and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries and the many ways that gender, class, place, and religious and ethnic identities have shaped women’s lives. With generous support from Nicki Newman Tanner,  Mass Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, we are proud to make these interviews and transcripts available to the public. All entries include transcripts; audio or video recordings are also available where narrator permissions allow. 

More about the collection

Alla (Hannah) Aberson

Project
Soviet Jewry

Alla Aberson was interviewed in Framingham, Massachusetts, as part of the Soviet Jewry Oral History Project. Aberson discusses her parents' "refusenik" jobs, life under KGB surveillance, participation in hunger strikes, antisemitism in the FSU, and their path to leaving the Soviet Union.

Ruth Abrams

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Judge Ruth Abrams on July 25, 2001, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Judge Abrams explores her family, education, career path, focus on gender issues, and notable legal cases in an interview.

Rosalie Silber Abrams

Project
Weaving Women's Words

Marcie Cohen Ferris interviewed Senator Rosalie Silber Abrams on May 24, 2001, in Baltimore, Maryland, as part of the Weaving Women’s Words Oral History Project. Abrams, a progressive health advocate, and former Maryland Senator, reflects on her life and career in an interview, highlighting her nursing background, political engagement, and contributions to healthcare and senior services.

Ann Abrams

Project
Ga’avah: LGBTQ+ Jews

Nicole Zador interviewed Ann Abrams on November 15, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts as part of the Ga'avah LGBTQ+ Jews project. Ann details her upbringing in the Conservative movement during the late 50s and 60s, her journey of coming out, her influential role as the Temple Israel librarian supporting the LGBTQ+ community, her passion for musical parodies, co-authoring a book of Jewish folk songs for peace, and meeting her wife while working at the temple, reflecting on her life, family, and professional endeavors.

Randi Abramson

Project
Washington D.C. Stories

Deborah Ross interviewed Randi Abramson on January 22, 2011, in Bethesda, Maryland, as part of the Washington D.C. Stories Oral History Project. Abramson, a doctor at Bread for the City in Washington, D.C., discusses her experience as a minority Jew, challenges in the medical field, commitment to community service, and imparting Jewish values to her children.

Frances Addelson

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Rochelle Ruthchild interviewed Frances Addelson on October 18, November 14, and December 10, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Addelson shares her life journey from childhood experiences in a Jewish orphanage in Boston to her education at Radcliffe College, a career in social work, and active involvement in social justice, despite not being particularly religious, until an accident in the late 1990s.

Diane Africk

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Diane Africk on July 11, 2007, in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Africk, a pediatric neurologist, recounts her experiences growing up in the city, her Jewish identity and involvement in Touro Synagogue, her career at Tulane Medical Center, the challenges she faced during and after Hurricane Katrina, and her criticism of the government's response to the storm.

Joanne Alter

Project
Women Who Dared

Deborah Michaud interviewed Joanne Alter on February 22, 2004, in Chicago, Illinois, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Alter reflects on her upbringing in a Christian suburb of Chicago, her early activism fostered by wartime experiences, her involvement in political organizations in college, her efforts in foreign relations and women empowerment, her successful political career, philanthropic work, and the influence of her Jewish identity on her activism.

Lynn Amowitz

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Lynn Amowitz on July 31, 2001, in Providence, Rhode Island, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Amowitz reflects on her childhood experiences of antisemitism, her parents' establishment of a synagogue for her bat mitzvah, the influence of family history on her career choice, her work in human rights investigations, and her aspirations to impact policies and methodologies in her field.

Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

Project
Boston Women Rabbis

Ronda Spinak interviewed Sharon Anisfeld on March 24, 2014, in Newton, Massachusetts, as part of the Boston Women Rabbis Project. Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld shares her experiences and perspectives as a religious leader, discussing topics such as ethics policies, the Book of Esther, the evolving role of rabbis in contemporary society, and the importance of adaptability, empathy, and understanding of religious traditions in her leadership role.

Carol Anshien

Project
Barnard: Jewish Women Changing America

Jayne Guberman interviewed Carol Anshien on October 30, 2005, in New York, New York, as part of the Barnard: Jewish Women Changing America Oral History Project. Carol Anshien, a Bronx native, reflects on her family's World War II service, her fond memories of the Jacob H. Schiff Center Synagogue, her pioneering experience as the first female bat mitzvahed in the 1950s, and her later involvement in feminist activism with the New Jewish Agenda Feminist Task Force while navigating her religious practice with secular life.

Rita Arditti

Project
Women Who Dared

Julie Johnson interviewed Rita Arditti on March 14, 2005, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Arditti, a Jewish activist from Argentina, discusses her upbringing, academic journey, involvement in the women's movement and Science for the People, her battle with breast cancer, and her impactful work with the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Louise Azose

Project
Weaving Women's Words

Roz Bornstein interviewed Louise Azose on April 18 and May 26, 2001, in Seattle, Washington, as part of the Weaving Women's Words Oral History Project. A Sephardic Jew from Turkey, Azose shares her immigration experience, family life, involvement in her synagogue, traditional cooking, cultural customs, the challenges of separation from her family, raising her children during World War II, the role of singing in her family, and her travels.

Brian Bain

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Brian Bain on July 5, 2007, in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Brian talks about his experiences growing up in Metairie, his involvement in Touro Synagogue and SoFTY, the impact of Hurricane Katrina on his family, and his current involvement in the local Jewish community.

Diane Balser

Project
Women Who Dared

Julie Johnson interviewed Diane Balser on March 8, 2005, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Balser discusses her journey into activism, including her early involvement in peace activism and the women’s movement, and her efforts to raise awareness on global gender inequality issues and facilitating discussions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Nairobi.

Arlene Barron

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Arlene Barron on December 14, 2006, in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Arlene Barron discusses her childhood, involvement with the Jewish Community Center (JCC), experiences during Hurricane Katrina, and the emotional impact of the storm on herself and her family.

Rebecca Benaroya

Project
Weaving Women's Words

Roz Bornstein interviewed Rebecca Benaroya on July 17, 2001, in Seattle, Washington, as part of the Weaving Women’s History Oral History Project. Benaroya reminisces on her upbringing in Seattle as the daughter of Turkish immigrants, her family's Jewish traditions, her marriage, parenting, and community involvement.

Ellen Bender

Project
Meet Me at Sinai

Jayne Guberman interviewed Ellen Bender on February 8, 2015, in New York, New York, as part of the Meet Me at Sinai Oral History Project. Bender discusses her childhood in New York, her mother's influence on her feminism, and how it shaped her religious practice, highlighting the impact of Jewish feminism and her vision for gender equality in Judaism and Jewish life.

Madeline Bender

Project
Meet Me at Sinai

Jayne Guberman interviewed Madeline Bender on February 8, 2015, in New York, New York, as part of the Meet Me at Sinai Oral History Project. Madeline talks about her upbringing in New York City, her involvement in various clubs and organizations, and her feminist perspective on Jewish practice, and shares personal experiences of encountering gender equality and combating anti-feminist attitudes.

Joan Berenson

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Joan Berenson on August 31, 2007, in Metairie, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Joan Berenson talks about her New Orleans upbringing, connection to Judaism, involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, the impact of Hurricane Katrina, and her hopes for the future.

Martha Bergadine

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Martha Bergadine on November 3, 2006, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as a part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Rabbi Bergadine discusses her journey to Judaism, her work with the Jewish Federation, the impact of Hurricane Katrina on Baton Rouge, and the sense of community that emerged from the disaster.

Bessie Berman

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Betsy Friedman Abrams interviewed Bessie Berman on December 10, 1996, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Berman explains her introduction to Temple Israel, her roles and responsibilities, her relationship with her coworkers and the rabbis, and how her career unfolded over fifty years with Temple Israel.

Beatrice Biller

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Emily Mehlman interviewed Beatrice Biller on February 25, 1996, in Ipswich, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Biller shares her family history, and involvement in various volunteer activities, reflecting on her experiences living through significant historical events such as the World Wars and her contributions to the Jewish community in Temple Israel.

Allan Bissinger

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Allan Bissinger on August 3, 2006, in Metairie, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina’s Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Bissinger talks about his upbringing in New Orleans, his experience during Hurricane Katrina, his involvement in the Jewish community's recovery efforts, and how his Jewish identity has influenced his life, despite not being religious.

Hadassah Blocker

Project
Women Who Dared

Elise Brenner interviewed Hadassah Blocker on December 16, 2004, in Newtonville, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Blocker shares her upbringing in Massachusetts, her Orthodox background, challenges to gender roles in Judaism, and her dedication to teaching and promoting women's equal participation.

Birth City

Type

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Oral History Collection." (Viewed on May 27, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories>.