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Helen Hirsch

Helen Hirsch’s mother was from Melova, Poland, and came to the United States when she was sixteen years old.  Helen’s first recollections are from moving from the South End of Boston to Dorchester in 1907.  While in Dorchester, her father founded an Orthodox synagogue and opened a tailoring and cleaning business.  Her family later moved to Brookline and joined a conservative temple, Mishkan Tefilla, where Helen, who enjoyed singing, joined the synagogue’s choir.  After graduating from high school at the age of 16, she entered the workforce as a bookkeeper and also went to night school.  After several years of business school, Helen decided to pursue her love of singing and began studying at the New England Conservatory.  Helen went on to marry her husband, Morey, and became involved in, and gave money to, many organizations, including the temple sisterhood, B’nai B’rith, Boston’s Youth Aliyah Movement, Hadassah, and Brandeis University.

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Scope and Content Note

Helen’s first recollections are from when she was five years old.  Her family moved from the South End of Boston to Dorchester, where her father founded an Orthodox synagogue and opened a tailoring business.  She talks about her experiences at the Oliver Wendell Holmes School and Dorchester High School.  She graduated with honors before attending Boston University School of Accounting and Secretarial School at night.  During the Great Depression, Helen found work as a bookkeeper for a clothing company.  She also joined the choir of the Mishkan Tefilla and was a member for fourteen years.  Through this involvement, Helen met Leonard Bernstein.  When Helen met her husband, Morey, she joined his synagogue, Temple Israel, and became active in Temple Sisterhood and B’nai B’rith.  She also became the treasurer of the Boston Youth Aliyah Movement and was a lifetime member of Hadassah.  Helen looks back on the early years of her marriage, learning to cook, and raising her children in the Jewish tradition.  Helen discusses her love and pursuit of music and her studies at the New England Conservatory.  Finally, Helen reflects on her family life, her children and grandchildren’s lives, and her joy of singing and music.  

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Helen Hirsch. Interviewed by Betsy Friedman Abrams. 8 August 1997. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 1, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/helen>.

Oral History of Helen Hirsch 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 https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.