Ida Mae Kahn

b. 1909

Ida Mae Kahn was born in 1909 in Bayonne, New Jersey.  Her father was a pillar in the community at Temple Emanuel in Bayonne, and her mother was the first Sisterhood President and the first woman to stand on the bima in the temple.  Ida attended New York University but eventually transferred to Emerson College in Boston. In 1930, Ida married Dr. George Kahn, a pediatrician, and they have two daughters, Elaine and Elsa.  They were members of Temple Israel in Boston, Massachusetts.  Ida became actively involved in volunteer activities, serving as president of the Temple's Parent Teacher Association Board, the Women’s Committee of the Jewish Child Welfare, and the Jewish Family Society. Later, Ida was appointed by Mayor John Hynes to be on the Board of Public Welfare, where she served for twenty-five years.

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Scope and Content Note

Ida describes how her parents instilled Judaism and temple life in her at a young age.  Both her parents were actively involved in the Jewish community; her father was a pillar in the Temple Emanuel community in Bayonne.  Her mother was the first Sisterhood President and the first woman to stand on the bima in the synagogue.  She and a group of friends vacationed in Vermont between her junior and senior years, where she met her future husband, Dr. George Kahn, a pediatrician.  She reminisces about her time in college, her courtship with George, and the early years of their marriage.  Ida talks about starting her family and shares stories about her two daughters, Elaine and Elsa.  Ida and George joined Temple Israel almost immediately after Elaine was born and considered it a home away from home.  Ida considers herself a member of Temple Israel in its “golden age,” a time when Rabbi Josh Liebman and Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn had a tremendous impact on the Congregation.  Ida explains how she was not content to sit at home and play bridge.  Instead, Ida longed for an activity that would help people.  She discusses her motivation to help those in her community and enumerates her long list of volunteer activities.  Ida became president of Temple Israel’s Parent Teacher Association Board, despite having children not old enough for school at the time.  In addition, she became President of the Women’s Committee of the Jewish Child Welfare and Jewish Family Society. Finally, Ida reflects on her appointment by Mayor John Hynes to be on the board of Public Welfare.  Ida served in this position for twenty-five years, and she considers this role her crowning glory.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Ida Mae Kahn. Interviewed by Betsy Abrams. 11 July 1997. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 24, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/kahn-ida-mae>.

Oral History of Ida Mae 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.