Catherine Kahn

b. 1930

Catherine Kahn is a fifth-generation New Orleanian and grew up within the Reform Jewish community. Before setting up Touro’s archives in 1990, she had been in the manuscripts division of the Historical New Orleans Collection, where she held every position from registrar to curator. Cathy is involved in the preservation and presentation of the history of the New Orleans Jewish community. She is President of the Southern Jewish Historical Society and on the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience and Temple Sinai boards. 

Scope and Content Note

Catherine Kahn shares her family history and a brief history of the Jewish community in New Orleans. Kahn discusses her upbringing, her experiences growing up in New Orleans as a Jewish woman, and how her volunteer work with the Jewish community deepened her religious connection. She recounts her husband’s illness, the plethora of medication and medical equipment he needed, and how that contributed to the complexity of leaving New Orleans. Kahn describes their evacuation to her daughter’s home New Iberia, recounts watching the news coverage of the hurricane, and worrying for her friends and the Touro Hospital. Due to her husband’s illness, they didn’t return to their house to see the damage; Kahn describes her realization that her husband would never return to their home. While separated from her typical Jewish community, Kahn reveals the importance of Friday night services in her routine, emphasizing her need for a Jewish spiritual space, in addition to the support of her family. She shares the details of her husband’s death and the impact of that loss on her return to New Orleans. Kahn chronicles her return home and to her work, detailing the changes that she’s seen in her archival work and her thoughts more generally on the Jewish community after Katrina. 

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Catherine Kahn. Interviewed by Rosalind Hinton. 17 October 2006. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 23, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/kahn-catherine>.

Oral History of Catherine Kahn 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.