Ruth Jungster Frankel

b. 1916

Hebrew school teacher Ruth Frankel dedicated her life to Jewish education and the welfare of the Jewish people. Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1916, she grew up in a close modern Orthodox home, attending Hebrew school from kindergarten until high school. Together with her sister, Lisbeth, Ruth emigrated to the U.S. in June 1938. Despite all their endeavors, Ruth and Lisbeth were unsuccessful in rescuing their parents, who had remained behind and eventually perished in Auschwitz. Ruth's future husband, Joseph Frankel, apprehended during Kristallnacht, spent four months in Buchenwald before reaching England and then immigrating to the U.S. in 1940. After the war, the Frankels and their daughter moved to Seattle where Joseph was instrumental in starting a Religious School at Herzl Ner Tamid, a Conservative synagogue, serving as its principal and cantor. Ruth became active in the synagogue Sisterhood, voluntarily kept all school records, and taught second and third grade for 30 years in Seattle public schools.

Scope and Content Note

Ruth talks about her childhood in Germany and traces her family’s genealogy back to the 1600s. Before the war, she attended a Hebrew School in Frankfurt and then went to business school in Limberg.  Ruth describes Hitler’s rise to power in Germany and the enactment of the Nuremberg laws in Germany. Around this time, Ruth had returned to Frankfurt to help start a Zionist school “to help educate young students to immigrate to Palestine.” She explains how she and her sister were able to immigrate to the United States in 1938, leaving behind her parents, who were killed in Auschwitz. Ruth tells the story of meeting her husband Joseph, who served in the American Army, and their married life and shared interests. Ruth reflects on her enjoyment of the arts and other cultural activities, her involvement with Temple Herzi, her daughter’s marriage to a Sephardic man, and dealing with her husband’s Alzheimer’s. She also discusses Jewish camps, her many trips to Israel, her role as a cantor’s wife, and the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.



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How to cite this page

Oral History of Ruth Jungster Frankel. Interviewed by Pamela Brown Lavitt. 7 August 2001, 15 August 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <>.

Oral History of Ruth Jungster Frankel by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at